British photographer Alexander James uses photography, painting and sculpture to create underwater installations
Alexander James is an exceptional photographer, his most recent project being composed of a series of beautiful images created by immersing sculptural scenes into large dark tanks of water. The meticulous nature of James’ work marks him out as an artist at the forefront of contemporary photography, combining multimedia elements as part of his unique style.
Photography is a median that epitomises the digital age, capturing the essence of modern life in still images, something James channels in his work through his symbolist technique. The introduction of the highly sculptured scenes to purified water gives his work a painterly effect, distilling the expressive elements of the objects with the intense black backdrop. The creations are often destroyed after the photos are taken as part of James’s dedication to in-camera purity, leaving behind vivid images with a depth of colour and emotion. The constant element of blackness is almost boundless, forming a deep canvas to build up rich layers of meaning.
Another recent project signed by James is ‘Swarm’, a photographic series placing butterflies as a widely significant species which symbolises freedom, spirituality and regeneration as the focal point. The offsetting of light and water injects the images with a sense of energy, beautifully capturing a sense of fragility and exposing the delicacy of the butterfly.
James has been exhibiting his art for over 20 years, being described as a ‘minimalist’ and compared to photography masters such as American modernist Man Ray. His work blurs the boundaries of photography, sculpture and painting, creating thought-provoking image whose sometimes obscured composition invites viewers to explore the deeper meaning at work.
James’ work is minimalist in composition yet expressive in style, letting the items he frames speak for themselves. Submerging the subjects in the deep black water acts as a cleansing and purifying action, intensifying the emotive nature of each image. An artist who depicts the progressive nature of contemporary photography, James’ signature style can be said to dynamically capture the intertwining themes of life and death in contemporary culture.
– Jess Rayner, Correspondent (Art)