Edel Assanti in association with Karsten Schubert is pleased to present Le Monde Moderne, an exhibition of new work by Ann-Marie James.
Ann-Marie James works explores her fascination with transformation, metamorphosis and the representation of corporal form. In Le Monde Moderne, James turns her focus to the work of early twentieth century Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha, focusing in particular on his best-known drawings of the actress Sarah Bernhardt.
Reformulating Mucha’s depiction of the female figure, James makes sketches from sections of drawings in the book, in turn using software to replicate, alter and layer them. These images are then laser-engraved onto dark walnut or ash and maple wooden boards, and overlayered with ink, acrylic and oil paint. Through this multifaceted process, James revisits works of the past (previously having approached Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, 1622–25), translating formal and atmospheric essence into pure gestural texture, dissolving figurative nuances into abstract motion. Her works retain a subliminal proximity to the source material – although no longer corporally referential, the evocative desire of Mucha’s notorious depictions of Bernhardt still permeates these paintings. The fairytale titles of the works recall Mucha’s own (La Grenouille enchantée, Le Cheveu merveilleux, Le Monde Moderne), inviting a fantastical, fluid interpretation.
In addition to her boards, the exhibition includes 25 ink and acrylic drawings, executed directly on the plates of the antique bound book of Mucha’s works. These works illustrate the transition elicited by James’ process, often stemming from depictions of the female form via the male gaze. Something of the control that Mucha progressively relinquished to his female models is echoed in James’ deconstructed derivations; at once a tribute and an act of adaptation, James forces the subtlety of form to centre stage.
The exhibition is accompanied by a Ridinghouse publication, which includes an essay by Charlie Fox.
Ann-Marie James (b. 1981) graduated MA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Art, London in 2012 and BA (Hons) Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London in 2004. Awards include The Derek Hill Foundation Scholarship at The British School at Rome (2013–2014); MFI Flat Time House Graduate Award, supported by the John Latham Foundation, London (2012); The Jealous Graduate Print Prize, London (2012) and The Queen’s Award, Central Saint Martins Scholarship Awards (2003). Recent solo exhibitions include Musée Imaginaire, Knoerle & Baettig (Winterthur, 2013), Proserpina, Karsten Schubert (London, 2013), Metamorphoses, Edel Assanti (London, 2012), Hanami, Soho Art Gallery (Osaka, 2011). James lives and works in London and Suffolk.