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JAMES HUNTER | NEW SCREENPRINT RELEASE

March 21st 2015
James Hunter’s second Eyestorm edition Fragrantissimum sees the artist continue to adopt the colour palette inspired by the Damien Hirst spot canvases he used to paint. Angie talks about the new piece below.

There’s something strangely engaging about James Hunter’s work that I find difficult to pin point, with some pieces more appealing than others. His early paintings (although we’re only talking 2013) saw him ‘stacking’ random shapes and forms to create the final image, normally in the centre of the page, with a dominant configuration as the central focus and the other shapes fitting around it in various ways. Most were fused together, with only a few disconnected. His debut screenprint edition Elegantissima, launched in March 2014, took this approach; the forms are large and solid, and the overall feel of the piece is one of solidarity.

The paintings James made around this time saw him experiment with composition, and a ‘landscape base’ was worked into pieces such as Ostara and City of Haarlem, which to me suggested the presence of land or sea and added a whole new concept to the work. The shapes that make up the central form in these works are smaller and the stacking neater, and this was carried across to other works that followed such as the large scale Osakazuku, which again sees a dominant central shape (not dissimilar to that in Elegantissima), but with the smaller shapes a lot more disconnected, giving the impression they’re floating away as if in outer space.

It’s this approach with more stand-alone forms, that James has taken with the new screenprint we’re launching today, Fragrantissimum. Larger in scale than its predecessor, the image spreads out across the page as the brush strokes, curls and abstract marks stray from the central composition towards the edges of the paper. The print was produced in Shoreditch at Jealous Print Studio, with printer Will working alongside James to get the proof just right. James is quite the model student, his pragmatic way of working beneficial in making everything run to plan. Having already worked on the true grains at home so the screens could be made in advance, he arrives with a swatch of colours for Will to work with and is present until the proof is near enough completed. And what a stunning piece it is, excellently printed and at a scale that means it can hold its own on a large wall.

Despite the ever evolving compositions, something that has remained constant in James’s work is the palette of primary colours, which is a nod to the spot paintings he used to make for Damien Hirst before he chose to be a working and selling artist in his own right. Another reference to his previous boss is the single perfect dot that has appeared in each and every one of his works to date. Sometimes it’s difficult to spot (see what I did there?) at first, but it’s always present. Interestingly in Fragrantissimum this ‘perfect’ dot appears perhaps very slightly not-as-perfect as dots in previous works. Could this be a sign he’s finally moving on from the controlled creative environment he was once confined to?

I can’t talk about Fragrantissimum without mentioning its title. The only way to really title abstract works is by using abstract titles or use random names completely un-connected from the image itself. Once you give an abstract piece a title that could be applied to the image somehow, the concept is no longer entirely abstract. Again taking reference and inspiration from Hirst, James takes his titles from a book about plants (where Hirst took his from medical books). Fragrantissimum is a type of rhododendron, highly scented and evergreen with dark green corrugated leaves. This however is somewhat irrelevant as I think when James chooses his titles it’s mainly to do with the look of the word than the nature of the plant, although I could be wrong. Some things are best left as a mystery perhaps.

Signed and numbered in a limited edition of 50, Fragrantissimum is available to buy online for the launch price of £600 (incl. vat) / $800. To see the piece in more detail and read more about James and his work, click here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
JAMES HUNTER
Fragrantissimum
 
 
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