James Collins, New Paintings

In collaboration with Encounter, Painters Painting Paintings is pleased to present James Collins – New Paintings. The exhibition is the artist’s first solo show in Portugal and brings together a collection of recent works created over 2020-23. This selection is representative of the distinct visual language for which Collins has become recognized, whilst also marking a significant development in the language of the paintings. Through his material preoccupation with the inherent logic of painting and ongoing experimentation with the alchemy of paint, the diverse and enigmatic objects Collins forms have taken on a fresh agency.

Collins’ works are shaped over extended periods and hold the history of their making in the dense painterly ground from which they emerge. The paintings possess a formal weight and palpable physicality in their encrusted, layered and labored surfaces. The essential viscosity of the compositions Collins renders, reflect a process of slow contemplation in which gradual thoughts are not only formed, but continually malleable and left reverberating on the edge of movement. The works operate like an active archeological site, in which the bones of ideas are perpetually dug out, brought to light, dusted and reburied to be later excavated again. The painted forms feel settled and established through large passages of time. Collins’ paintings expand and contract around a cognitive cartography particular to the artist. Similar to a stream of water impressing itself onto the earth or spreading through an ancient floodplain, the works slowly carve and reshape familiar routes, depositing a rich sediment of references as they journey through their painterly landscapes. The works are rooted in a syntax of recurring signs and symbols often interspersed in hidden pathways throughout their organic compositions. For instance, enduring motifs of the adjacent circle and square recur, sometimes rendered on the verge of lithic sculptural relief and at other moments hazily emerging through a veil of translucent color. Often a series of interwoven forms will catch the light, like the skeletal body of a buried fossil enticing the eye from within the face of a rock.

Collins plays with the alchemy of painting, which is apparent through his unusual rendering and merging of raw pigment and oil paint. Through this meticulous process, he utilizes the transformative power of paint, to open up new spaces of possibility. By pushing the material into foreign spaces, paint becomes an unknowable substance, bordering on the otherworldly. Consequently, the paintings appear to be formed from living matter both inside and outside of time. The works enigmatic materiality conjures a diverse range of associations from cellular structures to the ethereal blue glow of bioluminescent algae rising to the surface of the ocean at night. The use of a historically loaded medium such as ‘oil on canvas’ inevitably nods to numerous resonant pictorial histories of 20th century painting. Yet, Collins’ works travel beyond these marked associations into a vocabulary which is distinctively his.

New Paintings runs until the 27th of December 2023.
The exhibition continues at Encounter, Rua de São Bernardo 15, RC, 1200 823, Lisboa, until 27th January 2024.


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James Collins (1992) graduated with BA (Hons) from Wimbledon College of Art, London, in 2015 and Master of Arts (MA) from Royal College of Art, London, in 2017. Recent solo and dual exhibitions include ‘James Collins – New Paintings’, Encounter, Lisbon (2023), ‘Occultation’ CAR Gallery, Bologne (2021), ‘14’ PM/AM, London (2021), ‘Penumbra’ Claas Reiss, London (2021). Selected group exhibitions include ‘Once, Then, Gone’ New Child Gallery, Belgium (2023), ‘The Reason For Painting’ Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, United Kingdom (2023), ‘Here and Long Ago’ Gerhard Hofland, Amsterdam (2023), ‘Alte Freunde, neue Freunde’ Claas Reiss, London (2021) ‘Hideaway’ Monti8, Latina (Italy), ‘Abstract with Figure’ at James Fuentes, New York (2020), ‘Lost & Found’ at Rod Barton in London (2017), ‘Duo’ at Galleri Jacob Bjørn in Aarhus, Denmark (2018) Collins was included in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2015 and the John Moore Painting Prize in 2016. Collins work included in the Simmons and Simmons Collection and can be found in important private collections in UK, Europe, America, Canada and New Zealand.

James Collins, New Paintings

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