James Iveson was born in Southport
He studied at Goldsmiths, London
James currently lives and works in London
A conversation between OUTPOST steering committee members and James Iveson
Joseph Murray: When you first visited OUTPOST in preparation for your show and you first met myself and the committee, one of the things you brought to show us was a series of Jill Sanders catwalk images. Could you explain why you found this particular set of images interesting?
James Iveson: Those images were from the Elle Collections Magazine. They show a complete runway show with all the models cropped and lined up on a white background. I was interested in how the order the models walked effected the way the collection was defined. In that Sanders show, 80 percent of the clothes were signature chic minimalism, but three quarters of the way through the show, quite uncharacteristic floral garments appear. This all made me think about hanging paintings in galleries, and working out what sits together. The same idea came from seeing how Marc Jacobs has shoes made in every colour, and just before the catwalk starts he decides which one to commit to. I wanted to create a similar situation at OUTPOST.
James Epps: Within your paintings you create an illusory depth, I was interested in how this relates to the positioning and physical space of the paintings within the exhibition?
James Iveson: The depth in the painting is always playing off it's actual flatness - in the painting Size (2012), the
lemons flirt with being in an illusory space - whereas in Orange + Lemons 2 (2011), they are adamantly flat - parallel to the plane. The placement of paintings tight in the corners of the space at OUTPOST serves to make the corners more active - but all this is to increase awareness of your body, like when you see a novice ice-skating you’re reminded that we are a mass in balance.
Amy Budd: The intensity of your painting varies in each canvas. In some instances your brushwork is incredibly defined, such as Bather 1 (2011), or the texture of Orange + Lemons 4 (2011), or the linear outline in Size (2012). However elsewhere these motifs are much more gestural, verging on abstract, as in Skiing Gloves (2012), where the subject can barely be discerned. Are these differences a conscious outcome of your painting, or a result of working intuitively?
James Iveson: Well they are a result of working intuitively - which a lot of the time is surprisingly passive - literally I'm not looking at what I'm doing, perhaps when it's defined I have a strong feeling to see something in particular. This difference between the figurative and abstract values seems a way to give behaviour to painting - and I think O'Hara gets this in his poetry - which is vague and specific.
Glen Jamieson: There appear to be both comfortable and difficult relationships between your paintings. The titles indicate they may easier have been grouped by subject or (as Amy Budd earlier described) by their 'intensity'. Hung in a sequence, the subjects instead become recurring motifs - oranges and lemons interrupted by gestural marks, bathers wade toward the edges of the gallery's frame. A clockwise reading might encourage a narrative interpretation. Could you comment on these waiting relationships between the subjects of your paintings, and how you feel they come together for Positions?
James Iveson: I like the idea of waiting relationships - it seems to relate to the fact particular paintings seem to fall in and out of significance - both to me, and perhaps their audience too - this resurfacing effect is sped up when installing exhibitions. I'd recently thought of abandoning the bathers but I'm glad they reappeared at OUTPOST. I think this is why painting is such an relevant activity, other forms of culture seem to die almost without funerals - painting contrary to the cliché is always being re-born. Positions, the exhibition title, relates to sexual positions - which are a way to alter a familiar act of intercourse, alternating between both comfortable and difficult for those involved.
*Forthcoming Limited Edition Print
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