James Capper: LINEAR PAINTINGS and the HYDRALINER
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JAMES CAPPER: HYDRALINER & THE LINEAR PAINTINGS
Albion Barn is delighted to present an exhibition of new works titled LINEAR PAINTINGS by James Capper, produced by the artist’s painting machine HYDRALINER.
Capper’s sculptural practice as a ‘speculative engineer’ leads him to work with the versatility of the machine: blurring boundaries between sculpture, biomimicry, and industrial processes. HYDRALINER juxtaposes mechanised processes of modern mass production with the creation of unique artworks. An ergonomic collaboration is performed between artist and machine, bridging the gap between human intuition and repetitive methods of production.
Both Capper’s paintings and sculptures use the same industrial marine paint, bringing together the two and three-dimensional elements of his practice. The marine paint interacts with the movement of the roller arm in different ways depending upon its consistency; a heavy density forming a lacquered, gloss finish, while thinning it with solvents makes lively, wash-like marks. These contrasting consistencies express a sense of time and motion: different levels of speed within the process are implied in the variation of marks. The LINEAR PAINTINGS capture in their shifting hues both the actions and motions of the symbiotic relationship between artist and machine.
Alternating between caustic humour and poignancy; the titles often drawing from newspaper articles, press announcements, and PM’s briefings. The paintings act as a contemporary archive documenting the pandemic and its aftermath. Capper has described this practice as ‘meditative’, induced by the routine regularity of the machine arm combined with the subtly hypnotic blending of the paint:
“As the operator I enter an almost meditative state with the monotony and repetition of the process. Decisions are made in milliseconds around distribution of colour and density of paint resulting in the permanence of the painting.”
The new series builds upon Capper’s ROTARY PAINTINGS, which were created using the related HYDRAPAINTER during the 2020 national lockdown. The methodical process of creating the paintings gave form to the temporal limbo experienced by all during the lockdown and the sense of monotony caused by identically spent days. The bold, circular paintings engage with seminal works such as Jasper John’s Target, 1961, the colour field paintings of Kenneth Noland, Ugo Rondinone’s target paintings, and Damien Hirst’s spin paintings. At the beginning of the project, much of the proceeds went to the charity Covid Smart.
With the presence of the HYDRALINER, many of the LINEAR PAINTINGS series will be created in situ, bringing the mess and immediacy of the studio practice into the gallery space. The exhibition functions as a site of performance, left in various dynamic states of the art-making process. Even when the space is not in use, it implies the motion of the studio, simply awaiting activation by the artist’s presence.
Born in London, 1987, Capper draws from his background in agricultural mechanics to fabricate large-scale mobile sculptures. Capper completed his BA at Chelsea College of Art and Design, before studying for an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Capper received the Royal Society of British Sculptors’ Bursary Award in 2011 and was the youngest artist ever to be awarded The Jack Goldhill Prize for Sculpture from the Royal Academy of Arts in 2009, the same year he was nominated for the Jerwood Sculpture Prize.
Capper’s genre-defining industrial sculpture has been acknowledged internationally. Most recently in the exhibition Prototypes of Speculative Engineering at MONA – Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania (2021-22) a large-scale solo show that engages with environments specific to Australia. Two of Capper’s hydraulic sculptures, HYDRA SHUFFLE II (2014) and HYDRA STEP (2014), can be seen interacting with the vivid red earth found at Broken Hill: carving, cutting, and marking the earth of Australia’s oldest mining town.
Capper’s sculptural demonstrations have been made in collaboration with multiple notable institutions, museums, and non-profit organisations around the world including RIPPER TEETH IN ACTION at Modern Art Oxford (2011); DIVISIONS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2013); SIX STEP at Rio dell’Orso with Alma Zevi for the Venice Biennale (2015); PROTOTYPES at CGP London (2016); ATLAS A SPOLETO! / TELESTEP A SPOLETO!, Anna Mahler Association project for the Mahler & LeWitt Studios & Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto, Italy (2016); SCULPTURE & HYDRAULICS at The Edge Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts, University of Bath (2017); JAMES CAPPER at Bathurst Art Gallery, New South Wales Australia (2017); HYDRA STEP / HYDRA SHUFFLE at Forth Arts Residency, Sydney, Australia (2017); AEROCAB at the 3-D Foundation, Verbier, Switzerland; (2019) and MUDSKIPPER, WALKING WORKBOAT commissioned by Battersea Power Station, London, UK (2021).