The exhibition comprises two new series: âThe Rough with the Smoothâ (2008) and âRelationshipsâ (2006-8). In both, White chooses unheroic objects for subject matter - sinks, aeroplane trays, chocolate bars - which he paints onto plywood sheets and places in Perspex vitrines. Presented in this way, the imagesâ identity becomes increasingly slippery. The glossy Perspex emulates photographyâs smooth yet intangible picture plane, while the monochrome palette accentuates the sculptural side of Whiteâs resolutely domestic subjects. Glimpses of brushwork emerge upon closer examination, only heightening this confusion over medium. Suddenly, hooked by formalist concerns, we find ourselves fascinated by the daily sights that usually fail to snag the eye.
Review of James Whiteâs exhibition at the Max Wigram Gallery by artdaily.org
LONDON.- Max Wigram Gallery presents an exhibition of new paintings by James White. The works continue Whiteâs archiving of the minutiae of modern life. His black and white oil paintings on plywood panels are composed from the snapshots the artist takes of the objects that surround him.
Like the cinematic âcutaway shotâ, Whiteâs images are deliberately emptied of any dramatic content of their own; our focus momentarily rests on an intimate group of objects that silently resonate within a grander scheme. In refusing to acknowledge a wider visual world, Whiteâs exacting gaze suggests an external narrative in much the same way that the simple image of a drinking glass might when scrutinized within the context of a crime scene photograph.
Rather than merely celebrating the inherent beauty of the banal, Whiteâs paintings are iconic, subtle reflections on the quotidian. Despite the sense of intimacy within the work, the artist equally distances the viewer from the scenes he represents. This detachment is intensified by the characteristic absence of colour and the presentation of the paintings encapsulated in Perspex box-like frames.
The paintings in the show derive from photographs taken mainly in hotel rooms and the artistâs studio. Both locations exacerbate the sense of isolation and quiet respite from the day to day. â2.40 am (Berlin Hotel)â and â2.45 am (Berlin Hotel)â show personal objects scattered around a hotel room where the artist is spending a sleepless night. These personal belongings are the only reminders of the artistâs presence in the room, the sole evidence of the occupier within an otherwise totally impersonal space.
Review of JAMES WHITE: The Rough with the Smooth/Relationships, 2008, by ArtRabbit.com
White is well known for his black and white, meticulously crafted paintings of quiet, familiar situations and ordinary subjects. At the core of Whiteâs practice is the slow transformation of his own snapshots of daily life into paintings, which ultimately become sculptural objects. By encasing the paintings in vitrine-like perspex boxes the artist emphasizes the objecthood of the work, at the same time denying the viewer a direct relationship with the painted surface. In these crystalline paintings emptied of colour, objects are reduced to the core of their essence and are turned from the tools of the everyday into symbolic fragments of a life â mysterious icons of the familiar.
The Rough with the Smooth/Relationships presents eight new paintings and brings together two new bodies of work.
On the first floor, paintings belonging to The Rough with the Smooth document moments from a transitional period in the artistâs life - melancholic moments when items are left behind or brought into a new context: âAs happens repeatedly in Whiteâs work, the specified moment is not that of delirious communion with a distracting pastime, but one anterior or posterior to it: an instant in which a specific diversion from earthly cares is seen with its lights out, its appeal made slightly mysterious; thereby throwing into relief the ongoing compromise, the fragile neediness, of the usersâ lifeâ (Martin Herbert)