David James

London based artist David James has just opened Automatter, the second exhibition in a trilogy of three at GALLERY46. In his first exhibition CIVILISATION, James explored the relationship between art history, transformation, and personal experience. For AUTOMATTER, he delves into the subconscious mind through his practice of automatic drawing and oil painting. We managed to grab some time with David to ask him about his work and the exhibition.


David James Painting eE<. v(w)

Isn’t your subconscious- conscious?
It could be, but in relation to my process, I try to keep the consciousness switched off. I’m interested in where the rapid mark making of my drawing style takes me. The drawings always seem to decide themselves where they end up. It’s as if they have their own consciousness.

Why no colour?
I started painting them in colour, but they felt too jolly or descriptive. So I overpainted one with a thin black wash to see how it looked muted down and it immediately felt right. The result reminded me of how colour paintings reproduced in black and white in vintage art books.

Why give the title of your works in code? Wouldnt it be better to just not give them a title at all?
The codes are actually typographic diagrams of the painting – typograms if you like.

With the drawing how do you judge ‘success’?
The final outcome has to surprise me in some way. Mostly it’s instinctual, but I also have to feel like I’m discovering something new.

Doesn’t every drawing deserve to succeed?
That would be ideal, but it is not something I aim for. I just want to see where the drawing takes me. Most of the time I don’t like the end result, but that’s fine. Every now and then a drawing works because it instinctively feels right – usually when it is vaguely representational.

Your paintings are quite big was that a commercial consideration?
The drawings are made at a size that is most comfortable to execute using a wrist movement and a pencil, whereas the paintings are made at a size that is most comfortable to execute with an arm movement and brush stroke, so it’s really about the optimum scale for body movements.

David James Painting -0|00-o^o
David James Painting -0|00-o^o

This is part two of a trilogy did you know all the parts before you started
The works for the three shows were all started and made at the same time. The work in each show is quite different, but there is a thread between them.

Have you thought about what happens when it’s all over?
Well, it’s never over, it just continues and evolves. One work or show suggest another…

AUTOMATER runs till 8th November at Gallery 46 gallery46.co.uk MORE:artsy.net/automatter

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018