Civilisation – David James


GALLERY46 is delighted to present Civilisation, the debut solo exhibition by David James. It is comprised of a series of drawings and paintings that explore the relationship between personal experience and the history of art.

James’s ‘drawings’ and ‘paintings’ are neither drawn or painted in the conventional sense. The drawings are the result of a meticulous technique he uses to modify the reproductions of masterpieces by artists such as Velázquez and Rembrandt, torn from the pages of vintage art books. This seemingly destructive act abstracts iconic works from the history of art to the point of oblivion, but in doing so James creates new images with new identities.

The paintings are, in turn, fabricated objects made from enlargements of the drawings, with the addition of layers of resin, hair and grit. Through this process, each mark in the original drawing is amplified. The viscosity of the resin and the irregular texture of the added hair and grit increases the gestural appearance of the paintings’ surfaces, whilst also further abstracting their source imagery.

The sublime materiality of the James’s paintings both seduces and repulses on equal terms, a tension that highlights the possibilities of legibility and appropriation in image making.


David James’s practice consists of drawing, painting and assemblage. It is biographical in nature and utilises appropriated motifs from the history of art to explore subjects relating to personal experiences or current affairs. James’ process is experimental and intuitive. Ideas usually develop from a combination of unrelated investigations into the properties of objects, materials and tools. The work in Civilisation evolved from three separate disciplines – book collecting, mark-making and production. Together they form a mediation on the history of art, the human figure and iconography.


David James


Show Runs from: 2 – 25 October 2017, 12 – 6pm Mon – Sat


Selected Artworks

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