All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

James Joyce at The Breed Show

CULTURE

James Joyce at The Breed Show

The graphic artist's set of high-gloss paintings in a London group show reflect the inherent dichotomy between laughter and tragedy

by Gavin Lucas
on 26 September 2013
breed-show-london-1.jpg

Graphic artist James Joyce—not to be confused with the deceased Irish avant-garde writer—is well known for his bright and colorful—but always reductive—graphic and typographic artwork. He's a regular contributor to publications such as the New York Times, Wallpaper*, The Guardian and Time, and his limited edition prints are highly prized by graphic art experts and enthusiasts around the world. However, two new works in a group show opening in London this week suggest the artist is embracing a new direction. Joyce is exhibiting at a show organized by Breed—the London-based artist agency that represents him—which is on display at British art collector and restaurateur Mark Hix's The Cock'n'Bull Gallery (underneath his Tramshed restaurant) in Shoreditch.

breed-london-moross-1.jpg

Joyce and several other of Breed's artists—including Kate Moross, Rose Stallard, Steven Wilson, Andy Gilmore and Stuart Semple—were invited to create an original work of art specially for the show. Highlights include Moross' large hand-colored isometric pen artwork (detail shown above), a mirror-based piece by Revenge is Sweet and a beautiful half-tone gold print of an Amazon scene created by photographer Cat Garcia in collaboration with illustrator Jessica May Underwood.

breed-london-joyce-1.jpg

However, it's Joyce's set of large, glossy, circular paintings—each with a 1.75 meter diameter, which occupy the far wall of the gallery as you walk in—that undoubtedly steal the show. The one on the left, called "Here For A Good Time, Not A Long Time" is bright yellow with three black shapes arranged at the bottom of the circle, as if brought there by gravity—and the shapes are the unmistakeable elements that are required to create an iconic "acid" face. The other painting is bright pink with an assortment of shapes assembled at the bottom: Two black crosses, a white sausage shape with a black line running through the middle of it and a large red dot. Entitled "Laugh, I Nearly Died," the painting appears as a deconstructed clown's face.

breed-london-joyce-5.jpg

"For the show I wanted to make the paintings as large as possible, given the space allocated to me in the gallery," Joyce tells Cool Hunting of the new works. "It's the only wall that directly faces people walking in to the gallery, so I wanted the work to have impact." As well as the bright colors and scale of the works, Joyce has used super high gloss paint to create them, adding to the works' remarkable vibrancy.

"With other works I've done I've tended to use acrylics but with these I really wanted to have that glossy, almost toxic feel,” he says. Although each layer of paint took a full 24 hours to dry, Joyce is pleased with the result—so much so that he plans to create more work in a similar vein.

"I've definitely been trying to steer towards doing more original works, in addition to the editioned screen prints that I've been doing for a few years now," he says. "I've found that I've been getting more and more opportunities to create fine art work and it's something I want to continue to develop," he continues. Joyce has actually been creating art objects for a while. In his first solo show in London's Kemistry Gallery in 2008, he covered the walls with printed works but also created several free standing sculptural "Brick Cube" pieces.

james-joyce-brick-cube.jpg james-joyce-sculptures.jpg

Then in 2010, he collaborated with CGI studio The 3D Agency to create a computer generated image showing a gallery space full of three-dimensional artworks of his own imagining in a work titled "Various sculpture concepts." More recently, he hand-painted dollar signs all over a giant egg for The Great Egg Hunt, which was then exhibited in various cities across the UK as "Golden." And just earlier this week a painted acrylic on canvas work of his, entitled "Oh No," was exhibited at a charity art auction held at the RCA.

james-joyce-oh-no.jpg james-joyce-egg.jpg

"I guess I've always leaned towards creating objects in some way,” he says, “and with these pieces in particular, I see them working as series. These are the first ones, but I aim to create an ongoing series of the clown paintings. If you imagine rotating the image and the various elements falling into a new position—I really like the idea of that. Essentially these works are abstract, just a few simple shapes arranged in a circular panel, they aren't really faces in a conventional sense but it's interesting how the brain constructs the image for you.”

breed-london-joyce-4.jpg

Joyce also talks about his love of creating tension in his work. Both these paintings are, on the surface, bright and seemingly joyful, but, he says, there's a darker undercurrent, something that's implied by his choice of titles. "The clown face is a motif I've used several times over the years and I find it an interesting one. Although I suppose the association is with comedy and laughter, there's also the dark, sinister and tragic associations at the same time—I like that inherent dichotomy." The same goes for the deconstructed "acid" face; it's vibrant and fun but as the title suggests, nothing lasts forever.

breed-show-london-2.jpg

Joyce's works are available for purchase for £2,000 each. The Breed Show runs through 9 October 2013 at The Cock'n'Bull Gallery, 32 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3LX. The full list of contributing artists includes Douglas Bowden, Kate Moross, Danny Sangra, Paula Castro, Rose Stallard, Jessica May Underwood, Natasha Law, Steven Wilson, James Joyce, Andy Gilmore, Revenge is Sweet, Masa, Stuart Semple, and Cat Garcia.

Photos of James Joyce in his studio by Leo Cackett; gallery images courtesy of Breed London; images of previous works courtesy of The 3D Agency and James Joyce

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue
Loading More...