Born in 1987 in Liverpool, in the United Kingdom, James Clarkson lives and works in Sheffield.
He is a graduate of Sheffield Hallam University (2010).
He is represented by DREI gallery (Cologne) and the Galerie Jeanroch Dard (Paris).
James Clarkson composes his sculptures, assemblages and paintings from found items which he provides with a second life. These items are specifically chosen for their appearance and the memories that they evoke. Thus through his work, this young English artist maintains an ongoing and uninhibited dialogue with the history of forms, inspired by art history and design, as well as the real world and the objects that surround us, within easy reach. Drawing upon forms and ideas from the past but also from the world around us, the artist creates his works through assemblage. A taste for knowledge runs through his works, the history of modernity of course, but also more unexpected subjects such as the production of ceramics in Great Britain in the mid-twentieth century… This curiosity is accompanied by an empirical and intuitive sense of observation, based on the sensitivity of the artist’s gaze but also the functionality of the elements used. Thus, the viewer is free to interpret the parameters that define the works. For James Clarkson, “the found object” is considered to not only be a poetic principle, reminiscent of surrealist André Breton’s collections, but also a decorative element, with well-referenced expressive and stylistic qualities. Therefore, the artist makes use of pieces of an actual Citroën Picasso as the basis for an entire exhibition (A Painted Sun as a Yellow Spot, 2012). This desire for dialogue and combination can be seen in the artist’s numerous collaborations, such as with English artist Haroon Mirza (/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|, Spike Island, Bristol, 2012 and MIMA, Middlesbrough, 2013). In each piece, there exists an ideal junction between form and substance, signifier and signified, to a point of equilibrium between rereading or re-interpretation and invention, far from the temptation to copy or caricature.
Upright (n°4), 2013
Sculpture-installation, rod, metal, brass, bottle-holder and eyelet
320 x 26 cm / Unique Piece
Acquisition in 2013
Upright (n°4) is a volume made from the assemblage of four objects found by the artist in his studio, the result of which is akin to a 3D drawing traced in space. The artist associates ready-made objects, initially devoid of any particular qualities in order to create a vertical form that connects the ground to the ceiling. When combined, these items may call to mind aspects or sections of a human silhouette, or facial features. An amusing tension is palpable between the straightness of the threadlike line and the fluidity of the curve. Indeed, the “straight” line, which gives its name to the work, evolves towards fantasy, even the baroque, in the junction from one element or item to the next. For this series, James Clarkson focuses on the simplified treatment of decorative designs in ceramics. The quest for essentialism and reduced forms also reminds us of the research carried out by modern artists such as Alexander Calder with his metal sculptures or Juan Miro and his Portrait d’une danseuse (Portrait of a Dancer) (1928), which consisted of the unlikely combination of a cork, a feather and a hat pin on a white canvas. These principles of free reinterpretation and composition, somewhere between figuration and abstraction, are considered here on a large spatial scale.