Before The Night Was Through
Before The Night Was Through
Curated by Marta Orsola Sironi Presented by BeAdvisors Art Department
29 January, 2022 - 12 February, 2022
The exhibition invites visitors to take a journey through time to discover how the past, present and future are chapters of the same memory, inextricably linked and intertwined.
The exhibition’s narrative begins in London in the 1930s, where a young Russian immigrant and his two siblings decided to open a ladies and gentlemen saloon. Henry's Saloon soon became a meeting place for a fascinating array of clients, including some colourful characters and local gangsters. Over time, the city has changed and with it its businesses and population, yet the same charm of the past vibrates today in its streets. Years after the closure of his great grandfather's saloon, in the fascinating setting of 9 French Place, Alexander James rediscovers the history of his family and, with it, that of the city itself, allowing past, present and future to come together.
The artist's research does not conceive temporal or technical boundaries or any conceptual dictation. His practice moves between different media, such as painting, installation and video, according to a constant narrative passion. Through the exploration of personal and collective memories, James recollects and recounts stories, mythologies and introspections, climbing between photographs, diaries and objects. Dancing playfully between abstraction and figuration he creates varied, vibrant and textured paintings. In this way, the artist borrows and crystallises fragments of existence and clips of reality, interweaving an absolute temporality, an eternal present inhabited by figures that challenge the viewer from the surfaces of the canvases.
What Alexander James stages is a look through, a crossing of stories and memories, which act as a diary for the audience, a timeline as well as a mind map of events, across the lives of his relatives and historic moments of London. The three floors of 9 French Place, having witnessed many stories and presences, are now inhabited by the works of the artist, whose characters make it their home for the duration of the show. The exhibition venue is thus transformed into a space-time continuum where time unravels its boundaries and its visitors become part of a collective story, which began and will continue to evolve between the London of yesterday and the memories of tomorrow.
Alexander James (b. 1993, London) works predominantly across painting, installation and collage. He graduated with a BA in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts, London, in 2015. Recent exhibitions include It's Not Just a Portrait, Badr El Jundi Gallery, 2021 (group), Benahavis; A’NICA residency, Milan, 2021; Dancing on Lava In A Moment of Decadence, Roman Road, London, 2020 (solo); Look What The Cat Dragged In, Roman Road, London, 2020 (solo); Elms Painting Rooms, London, 2020 (group); I Loved Your Gestures, Galerie Joseph, Paris, 2019 (solo); Sharper Than Razor Blades, Softer Than Leather, The Face Apartment, NY, 2019 (solo); I Loved Your Gestures, Galerie Joseph, Paris, 2019; Winter Show, Harlesden High Street Gallery, London, 2019 (group); Deccan Traps, Aindrea Contemporary, London, 2019 (group); Art Without Borders, Zilliard Art, Herrick Gallery, London, 2019 (group); Inhabiting the Dome, Working Projects, Whiteleys, London, 2019 (group); Hyperbolised Tropic, Outset Art Foundation, 39 Baker Street, London, 2018 (group); I, Science, The Blyth Gallery Imperial College, London, 2018 (group); Rock, Paper, Scissors, Hoxton Arches, 402 Cremer Street, London, 2016 (group).