Anthony James Studio - Pluralistic Paradox
Anthony James is a British/American artist based in Los Angeles, known for his monumental and experiential sculptures and installations. James was born in England in 1974. He studied in London at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and graduated with a degree in fine art painting. His work gestures towards the theatricality of minimalism and formalism. There is a focus on materiality, alchemy, and a deep respect for light and space.
“My work is my best attempt at giving the impossible, the infinite, a physical, objective existence. The materials are merely an extension of the gesture. I start with the gesture and have spent decades distilling these concepts down to the essential. So whether I’m using vanguard, illustrious materials and high technology or centuries old metal techniques — my interest is in communicating the most direct way I can. There is a minimalistic simplicity to the work, yet it expresses something infinite — it’s a pluralistic paradox. I’ve tried to visually demonstrate the colossally vast and the infinitesimally small — the cosmos and the divinity inside oneself.”
- Anthony James
Portals / Platonic Solids /
The sculptures, made of stainless steel, glass, and LED lights, have shown internationally to great acclaim.
“I’m interested in revealing and sharing truth. My intention is to bring an impossible concept like the idea of infinity, or the cosmos, into physical objective existence. I am attempting to express science, spirituality, and philosophy in an object the purest and most honest way I know how.”
“My job as an artist is to make my work look effortless, but of course it’s not. The human eye only hits the mistakes. I will never let your eye hit on a mistake.”
The Birch Series
James originally debuted The Birch Series in New York City in 2005. It consisted of several variously sized, vertical light boxes with young birch tree trunks inside. The sculpture series references the containment and simulation of nature. The works have mirrored sides, which give the illusion of an endless birch forest. The pieces are composed of birch trees, metal, glass, and fluorescent lights or LEDs. The birch tree is associated with magical symbolism. Glenn O’Brien wrote about birch trees that their “magic...is rooted in [the] special relationship with fly agaric mushrooms - that famed toadstool of the red cap and white spots - which is so often associated with elves and spirits...Many anthropologists consider it to be a possible agent of the transformation of human consciousness.”
Of the series, James said, “I think about the containment of nature. The containment of our own nature. There’s something about the individual's journey that is really at the root of it. Going into the forest — not knowing what you’ll find — not knowing if you’ll ever return... You can see the metaphor.” “They resemble a contradiction between like a Stanley Kubrick and Gustav Klimt. It’s Gustav Klimt mourning the way they’re lit, it’s this endless birch forest, but everything is in too much symmetry. You know, there’s something menacing there. What first appears to be beautiful is actually quite menacing in a Kubrick way.”