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Biography

Photo: Ken Nevis

James White began his career as part of a collaborative duo exhibiting large-scale works in the early 1990s, coming to the public’s attention at the same time as his fellow YBAs. White turned from installation to painting, dedicating himself to producing the finely wrought, luminous black and white oil paintings for which he is well-known. White’s commitment to an apparent tradition of representational painting imbues his work with a fundamental permanence, underscoring the continuity in moments of silence, doubt and repose that have been the subject of art for centuries, whilst profoundly updating its implications. Painted on aluminum, wood or plastic, his work has its origin in snapshot photographs taken of his environment both domestically and when travelling—a door that is slightly ajar, a glass of water left on a bathroom sink, a broom leaning against a wall. The objects in the paintings imply a narrative arc that, similar to a cutaway shot in film, creates a psychological space for reflection on actions that lie outside the frame. White’s masterfully rendered moments of everyday life bear comparison to the quietude of paintings by the Flemish masters, whilst the distilled forms that inhabit them reflect a more contemporary, ritualized, minimalist sensibility.

James White lives and works in London, United Kingdom. He received his BA from the Wimbledon School of Art in 1989 and his MA from the Royal College of Art in 1991. In June of 2020, White will have a solo exhibition at the Fondation Fernet-Branca, France and will be featured in a group exhibition at MARTa Herford, Germany. He has been the subject of solo and group exhibitions at international institutions such as The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, TX; Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; the Olbricht Collection, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art, Bremen, Germany; and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London, United Kingdom amongst others. White was a John Moores 24 prizewinner in 2008 and the subject of a major monograph, James White: Paintings, with essays by Martin Herbert and Jeremy Millar, published in 2011 by FUEL. In 2017 White’s large-format paintings were presented in the publication Bodies, and in 2018 Small Paintings was published, both books were published by Kerber Verlag.

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