Grandfather Figure (2012) by Nathan James

Buzzed about painter cites Phaidon influence

"Vitamin P book was like a bible for me" says Canadian-born, London-based Nathan James

Last week was a great one for openings in London. Among the shows caught up with were the Bowie show at the V&A, a great exhibition of photographic work by Jan Dibbets at Alan Christea Gallery and a truly remarkable show of new work by the Chinese artist Maya Lin at Pace Lexington. Incidentally, we'll be bringing you an interview with Maya Lin in the coming weeks. Very different to these shows but also well-attended and received (certainly if the number of orange stickers on the wall was anything to go by) was a show called Creepshow, by Nathan James at the small Cobb Gallery in Camden, North London. 

James, a Canadian-born, British-based painter, has won the praise of Jake Chapman, who's said that "like all the best art," the artist's new paintings "challenge the idea that beauty is a universal term". We thought his grotesque, poppy portraits owe more to Philip Guston, John Currin or even George Condo, than they do to the dark arts of Jake and Dinos. In James's pictures, familiar figures from North American pop culture are given a ghastly, acid wash.


Imagine What Home Feels Like (2012) by Nathan James
Imagine What Home Feels Like (2012) by Nathan James

What was heartening to learn was that, following a brief chat with James, he returns the compliment. While acknowledging some tacit influences from the likes of Bacon, Warhol and Picasso, the artist told us that Phaidon's contemporary painting survey "Vitamin P was like a bible for me when I got out of art school". James studied with Kristine Moran, who also featured in Vitamin P2. "It's my dream," the artist says, "to get into one of those eventually." (A fine ambition for any young painter, surely). To find our more about James' work and current exhibition, go here. For more on our illustrious Vitamin series, including our forthcoming drawing volume, Vitamin D2, please take a look here.