Artist on File


THE latest exhibition of paintings by new member James Moss at Brahm Gallery, Leeds opened to critical acclaim with a lead feature on the front page on The Independent's online arts and entertainment section.

HVAF Newsletter catches up with James in his home town of Hertford to find out what's behind the elusive works.

ACRYLIC, inks, powder pigments, spray adhesive, oil, household paint, layered, rich, textured. Without seeing the works of James Moss in the flesh, it's hard to picture exactly what they look like.

On talking to James, it's even harder to pin down what his paintings are about. It's probably easier to describe the works as encompassing everything, from atom to universe, microcosm to macrocosm. At least these are some of the themes that occupy the 28-year-old artist now on his fifteenth exhibition.

"The paintings are a thing, rather than being of a thing," elucidates James, who moved from London as a child to a home right beneath the vast flyover of the A10 at the edge of Hertford. The concrete mass certainly made it's mark on the young mind of Moss; the transitory world of vehicles passing over the permanent, historically rich open landscape of King's Meads beneath.

This juxtaposition offers some clue into the world and work of James. Having gone from Hertford Regional College to Manchester to complete Fine Art painting in 2004, James moved from a more formal approach of geometric forms - or the built environment - urban shapes, maps and semi figurative elements, to a more fluid and free form of expression; placing small units into a big environment (the surface of the canvas), creating bonds between units, to produce works of pure abstraction.This shift in style and approach James attributes to a year spent in Japan.

In simple language, James may start work with a doodle, that is connected to another doodle. It may be that a mark or speck of dust on the canvas informs the next mark. "I build a relationship between shapes. It's free exploration. As it goes on it becomes more and more obsessive, making tough aesthetic choices striving towards a balance." And so it continues, just as people over the course of history have built environments, manifesting as a layered development of human settlements.

James may work on six paintings at once. "Because of the way I work it takes months; some take over a year, going back to them now and again. It's a slow process, building up lots of layers like reverse archaeology," he said.

The end result is an image reminiscent of peering through a microscope or telescope, or a satellite image; but whichever way, the works are beautiful, timeless and enigmatic.

James Moss will be exhibiting during Open Studios 2010 in Hertford alongside works by his mother textile artist, Lou Moss.