Anthony James is a British/American artist based in Los Angeles, known for his monumental installations and sculptures. His work gestures towards minimalism, materiality, process, alchemy, language, mechanization, and experimentation with light and space. James was born in England in 1974. He studied in London at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design from 1994 to 1998.
The Birch Series of sculptures was debuted in New York City in 2005. They consist of several variously sized, freestanding and wall-mounted, internally illuminated, steel, and glass vitrines with birch tree trunks inside. The birch tree is associated with magical symbolism. Many anthropologists consider it to be a possible agent of the transformation of human consciousness. The birch tree is also “associated with birth and rebirth” and is “hermaphroditic and self-propagating, with male and female flowers on the same tree. The works have mirrored sides, which give the illusion of endless birch forests. These artworks also reference the containment and simulation of nature.
The Portal sculptures take up the concepts of the universal and transcendental. The historical cosmology of Plato is a primary inspiration for the sculptures. The effect is both esoteric and scientific, morphic, and distinctly concrete. The historical references here span the empirical experimentation of cultures. James’ objects show, a formal certainty and perspicuity (exact symmetry, white light, accurate shape) that registers purity, autonomy, and wholeness. His works illustrate ideals, but they themselves are very contingent and actual; they are for today. The sculptures operate between the iconic and the arbitrary, the concrete and the alchemic, the mythical, and the experiential. James describes his work as, “evoking pictorial depictions of the cosmos, alluding to notions of mysticism, ethereality, spirituality, and science, all the while anchored through the use of weighty, industrial materials”.