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Lauren Halsey

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Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.

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Anthony James, "40” Bullet Panel," Polished Stainless Steel 40 x 40 inches; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony James, "Round Rain Painting," Urethane Paint on Belgian Linen, 40 x 40 inches; © Sean Deckert, courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony James, installation view of "Divine Infinity," © Sean Deckert, courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony James, "84” Wall Mounted Birch Portal," Steel, LED lights, double sided glass, birch trees, 30 x 84 x 15 inches; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony James, "60” Bullet Panel Dodecahedron," Steel, LED lights, double sided glass; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony James, "60” Bullet Panel Dodecahedron," Steel, LED lights, double sided glass; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony James, "2x24” Cube Stainless Steel," Glass, LED Lights, Solar Black finish, 24 x 24 x 24 inches; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony James, "50” Hexagram," Steel, LED lights, double sided glass, 50 x 50 x 12 inches; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Portrait courtesy of Anthony James Studio.
Art

Anthony James Ponders the Possibility of Infinity at Opera Gallery

By Pearl Fontaine

March 28, 2022

When gazing into the works of the artist Anthony James, viewers will find themselves transfixed by assemblages of light and metal that harnesses an ethereal other-worldly quality, almost like gazing at a portal into another realm. James, a British artist based in Los Angeles, utilizes principles of Euclidian geometry and Platonic solids—perfect shapes in the gaze of the Ancient Greeks—to ponder the idea of infinity, in turn prompting his viewers to take part in their own philosophical journey of possibility.

The latest iterations of James’s cosmic entities can be seen in his upcoming show at Opera Gallery in New York, titled “Divine Infinity.” On view from March 31—April 27, the presentation stretches across the building’s entirety, featuring new works made especially for the show, like the infinitely complex 60” Rectified Truncated Cuboctahedron, a hanging tunnel-like composition that appears to be filled with endless Birch trees, and Bullet Projector Dodecahedron, which uses mirror-polished steel to create an experience we imagine is similar to floating through the Milky Way. Ahead of the opening, Whitewall caught up with James to learn more about the show and his practice as a whole.

Open Gallery

Anthony James, "50” Hexagram," Steel, LED lights, double sided glass, 50 x 50 x 12 inches; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.

WHITEWALL: What was the starting point for your show “Divine Infinity”? What kind of artworks can we expect to find included?

ANTHONY JAMES: I play with Platonic solids, but the portals are about how vast the world can be. A new artwork that’s being premiered in this show is Bullet Projector, I took a Dodecahedron made of steel panels that I then shot to pieces in the desert. The light source projects from the inside out. It’s about what you project.

WW: You’ve created the works on view specifically to fill the three floors of Opera Gallery. Tell us about the process of creating these works for the space.

AJ: I have transformed moments in Opera Gallery New York into an art installation, using thirty Bullet Paintings as tiles to cover the gallery walls. The concept behind the Bullet Series was to make a visual demonstration of the universe. The material used is mirror-polished steel. 

I wanted to puncture the steel with an effortless gesture and flow in a similar attempt to how Lucio Fontana would slice his canvas with a knife or puncture paper with a pencil. Given the nature of steel, a knife and pencil was not a possibility. So I use Benelli shotguns and AR-15 assault rifles. The gesture became a meditation; almost a zen practice. Creating something of beauty in a violent way.

Open Gallery

Anthony James, "40” Bullet Panel," Polished Stainless Steel 40 x 40 inches; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.

WW: It’s easy to get lost in your works, gazing into something that appears to be nothing and everything all at once. What kind of experience are you hoping to open up for your viewers in creating these almost-cosmic entities?

AJ: I try to represent the impossible in a free dimensional way. I try to visually demonstrate the colossally vast and the infinitesimally small-the cosmos and the divinity inside one’s self.

However, with several pieces in this exhibition, I wanted to project the stars.  How do you think a star is built? It’s like the Big Bang. You have to break the perfect because that’s how the world was created.

WW: Experiencing your art has been compared to the act of looking at a microcosm of the universe—and this effect is something you’ve been able to achieve many times over. Can you describe your approach?

AJ: I’ve tried to give infinity an objective existence by making it tactile. My intention is for people to witness infinity, divinity, within themselves. The work is by its very nature pluralistic and multi-layered inviting a depth of viewing outward as much as a depth of viewing inward.

Open Gallery

Anthony James, "60” Bullet Panel Dodecahedron," Steel, LED lights, double sided glass; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.

WW: How do you go about creating the same effect in so many different forms, while also keeping the process fresh and engaging for yourself?

AJ: I've always been interested in distilling things down to their essence and that includes my concept of self. I’m just trying to get out of my own way, by that I mean, releasing assumptions that I may’ve held onto regarding my past and future. My faith gives me freedom. I’ve always have had faith in a collective consciousness so I download from there.

WW: Your practice falls into a space where mathematics and elements of philosophy merge with art. Did you come to this intentionally or is it a byproduct of your interests?

AJ: I like to merge the scientific and the spiritual—life experience and philosophy. I don’t differentiate myself from my artwork. I start with a gesture and the materials are about helping me find the clearest and [most] direct way to communicate. I like to use the vanguard and illustrious all in service of the gesture.

WW: From your point of view, how has your oeuvre evolved from your early days as an artist and what are you hoping to explore next in your work?

AJ: You can’t escape yourself, the oeuvre remains the same.  My work seeks to understand the ancient and the infinite. Birth, death, rebirth. The depth of the cosmos and depth inside each one of our souls. These are the things [with] which I grapple. It's matters of the spirit writ large by blunt force trauma. Just like life itself.

Open Gallery

Anthony James, "84” Wall Mounted Birch Portal," Steel, LED lights, double sided glass, birch trees, 30 x 84 x 15 inches; courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.

Open Gallery

Anthony James, "Round Rain Painting," Urethane Paint on Belgian Linen, 40 x 40 inches; © Sean Deckert, courtesy of the artist and Opera Gallery.
Anthony JamesOpera Gallery

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