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JAMES HUNTER | Brand New Limited Edition Screenprint Launches Today
March 14th 2014
Elegantissima is James Hunter’s first limited edition screenprint; an exclusive Eyestorm edition, it’s making its debut this week at AAF Battersea and is available to buy online from today.

When we first started showing James Hunter’s paintings back in July 2014, just eight months ago, I don’t think any of us, including James himself, realised how popular they would be. The pieces we initially launched with sold almost immediately after the sending of our newsletter, with commissions following for clients who missed out.

Since then his canvases, each exquisitely framed by the artist in his signature custom handmade white glassless boxes, have been in constant demand, selling almost as fast as he can make them. His paintings received a great response when we exhibited them in New York in the autumn, where both of the pieces we had on show sold on the opening night and the work was identified by a couple of New York based galleries who are interested in showing him in the future.

When we approached James to talk about making a screenprint edition, he was a little apprehensive at first. Seeing himself as primarily a painter at this stage in his career, he hadn’t really considered printmaking and was a little unsure about whether he could make something that he would be as happy with as he was with his canvases. But once we began to talk more about the idea and went to Jealous for a meeting with Matthew to chat about the options, James slowly grew to love the idea and it wasn’t long before he became very involved in the whole process of making his first limited edition screenprint.

Unlike some screenprints which originate from a digital file, Elegantissima is made completely from scratch in the sense that each mark is created by James’s hand without the use of a computer. Working directly on to the true grain - the acetate films that are transformed into the screens that in turn go on to create the print - after some experimentation with materials James painted his marks on multiple layers of the transparent material in order to create his final image. Because he was able to use different colours of enamel paint, he could create something that very much resembled the final image, made in a similar way to his paintings (making marks almost unconsciously to create something abstract).

This was quite a breakthrough in the ‘making’ process, as alternatively James would have had to have used black paint for each layer, and this would have made it more difficult for him to visualise what the finished print would look like.

We had a very enjoyable and productive day at Jealous print studio in Shoreditch making the first print with the brilliant master printmaker Matthew. James was selecting his colours as Matthew mixed them and they were applied to the screens, layer by layer, which had been made from James’s true grain paintings. Things ran pretty smoothly and the proof was finished that day, which was perfect as it meant James could go back home to Preston having seen the final print. Everyone was so delighted with the results and it was a fun day, even though I think James found it quite difficult to stand around watching at times; clearly a ‘hands on’ person, it wasn’t long before he was assisting Matthew, washing squeegees in the sink and drying the prints in between layers.

Elegantissima is titled in the same way as James’s paintings, which is to be semi-randomly selected by the artist from a book about plants. When I looked this plant up, it was described as “a bushy deciduous medium-sized shrub with deep red stems and grey-green, white-margined narrowly ovate leaves”. Whether that has any relevance or not we’ll probably never know. Personally I think it’s more likely James was attracted to the look of the word and how it related to the form that had been created; the configuration of the shapes in this piece look like they’ve been piled up on top of each other, ‘elegantly’ poised creating a certain lightness.

James’s work translates perfectly into print, so I think all involved feel that this is a natural progression in terms of working within different a medium. He will of course continue to make his paintings and has talked about taking these even larger in scale at some point in the future, but I think this print edition works alongside these original works perfectly while making Hunter’s work more accessible.

Elegantissima is in an edition of 50 and is now available to buy online at the launch price of £420 incl. VAT / $560 (USD).

See more of James’s work here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
JAMES HUNTER
 
 
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With two major exhibitions during the Venice Biennale, 2017 was a year which increased the awareness of Damien Hirst. With Hirst still actively releasing new print editions, many collectors focus on his earlier work from 2000 and before, such as Valium, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Opium, Beautiful, Galactic, Exploding Screenprint (Spin) and Painting-by-Numbers.

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