As you step into this gallery you see six photographs… but that’s a mistake, as these are in fact paintings that are so impeccably detailed that it’s almost impossible to tell they aren’t photographs.
Only on closer inspection does it become evident that the reflective glare off a wine glass is white paint and faint brush strokes become visible. The artist may have had to exaggerate the brush strokes just to ensure that viewers can be convinced that these are in fact paintings.
James White is a talented artist and the level of detail is painstaking from the graining and imperfections in the wooden staircase to the flaking paint next to a light switch. To further highlight his abilities there is a bathroom scene with a reflection of a mirror within another mirror and even then there isn’t a single speck of paint that isn’t where it should be. The bathroom door handle is painted to be slightly out of focus, thus adding further credence to White’s faux-photography approach. Lengthy examination of White’s works reveals more fine details with every passing minute.
The paintings are all in shades of grey giving a noir-ish feel to the exhibition and all the works have a unifying theme of the uncertainty of transition. Were the set of empty glasses placed there after or before a party? Their arrangement suggests the former but their cleanliness hints at the latter.
The semi-deflated balloon feels like it may descend the second you turn away and what is expected to go through the shower drain – only water, or blood a la Psycho? These questions raise the paintings beyond mere vessels for drawing attention to the artist’s technique.
This is an awe inspiring and challenging display by a supremely talented artist.
James White: Cornered is on at Max Wigram Gallery, 106 New Bond St. until 11 August.