James Hunter’s recent series of abstract works share attributes with the genera 'surrealist automatism', in that they have no conscious compositional or pictorial outcome. Painting with enamel and acrylic, each contribution to the canvas informs the next, giving a sense of growth and expansion from an undefinable core. Hunter states that this group of paintings were born out of the need for a ‘lack of process’ - “I try to empty my mind. I don't want to know what's going to happen on the canvas. I start somewhere, then every subsequent mark is a response to what I see.”
This freedom of process is tempered with purposeful confident mark making and a clean graphic aesthetic. In pleasant opposition to the chaos of the image his works are presented in a uniform format, using the same colour palette, canvases of exactly the same size and the same portrait orientation. By first giving himself the parameters of his tools he is then able to enjoy the unexpected outcomes of working instinctively.
The result of his honest and playful journey are cumulonimbus of colour from which an infinite number of recognisable forms emerge. Panting dogs, computer game characters and fractured faces can be constructed from the jigsaw like components. The accents and highlights in works such as Fiesta Gitana give a sense of movement, as if they were shaking or dancing. Jackanapes, an old word meaning a cheeky impertinent person or a tame monkey, seems to live up to its title vibrating with giddy energy. The use of block of colour to segregating the canvas in works such as City of Haarlem and Ostara create a fictional coastline or municipal border on which lay what look like Dr Seuss landscapes meets google map cities. The entertaining joyful nature of these pieces coupled with their high quality finish, perfectly displayed in identical box frames which he prepares and finishes himself, illustrate why this young and exacting artist will continue to be well received.
Born in Preston, Lancashire in 1987, Hunter studied BA (hons) in Fine Art at Leeds Metropolitan University where he made painting and performance work collaboratively with his twin brother Anthony, achieving 1st class honours. He was then employed by Damian Hirst both as a performance artist and as a fabricator. He continues to explore his painting which has been shown internationally including New York City, Stockholm, Singapore and London. He now lives and works in Liverpool.
our article on James Hunter and 'Investing in Art' here