James White’s black and white oil paintings depict everyday scenes and objects such as a half empty glass or bottle, a door left ajar, a running tap. The London based artist executes these reflecting surfaces intricately in a highly contrasted palette, invoking the tradition of still life painting, yet using contemporary materials, cinematic narrative devices and images of consumer objects that anchor his practise in today’s visual culture. The sources of White’s work, painted on aluminium, wood or acrylic panels, are photographs of his immediate environment at home, in bars or hotel rooms. The paintings of these mundane moments in between seem to be evidence of encounters and events taking place just before, after or outside the frame. The structured absence in them creates a narrative space charged with suspense and ambiguity, challenging relations of temporality and space as well as roles of protagonist and observer. While the verisimilitude and psychological tension of the paintings direct the viewers’ attention away from the surface, the pairing of two disparate images within a frame in some of the artist’s work showcases the process of cropping and cutting.
White’s photographic prints of familiar interior details, too, combine black and white photographs with color flares and collages with aluminium tape, emphasising their own physical construction as objects. His most recent works on paper are unique large-scale archival pigment prints of his characteristic subjects. This time the images appear muted as they seem to float above or behind a graph paper pattern, the image plane disrupted and accentuated by lines of aluminium tape or apertures cut into the surface to reveal yellow acrylic paint.