All Icons Are False

All Icons Are False

Alexander James Exhibition at D Contemporary


As I enter D Contemporary on a rainy Thursday night, springtime is far from my mind.

Yet, as I put down my umbrella and remove my raincoat, I am lured into the gallery by the most resplendent yellow flower: ‘Dreaming Morpheus’.

Hypnotised by the sheer perfection and delicacy of the petals, I find myself leaving the rainy day behind and embarking on a journey of floating magic.

Returning to London after many years spent in Russia, artist Alexander James presents unique images of blossoms immersed in highly purified water. These flower arrangements are so condensed; they almost look like stained-glass windows!

Alongside these are pieces from his well-known Vanitas series, in which he re-visits the works of 17th century Dutch masters: “[…] back in those days […] these pieces were the first time in history that art was produced outside the construct of the royal families, the political powers, the rich, the churches. There was reformation. It was the first time an artist had a chance to have a direct conversation. I am intent on continuing that”.

As I make my way up to the first floor, I get the feeling Morpheus has once again opened his gates. Inspired by nineteenth-century paintings, the Rastvoyrenayya Pechal series was created during Alexander’s stay in Moscow and features unique images of people underwater. It is like meeting floating angels in a dream as they whisper the bittersweet realities of life: “We are all stardust nothing ever dies”.

Also on show are works from the Rosae series, a documentation of recognisable brands and symbols. To depict these, Alexander has chosen the red rose: “it’s a symbol of unrelenting love, but in this instance, I believe it’s very false […] we live in a world of overconsumption and we seem to be flocking to the church of brand and celebrity”.

The evening is not only an artistic journey, but a philosophical one as well as Alexander confides: “I know what I’ve put in front of you is the most honest, pure, decent work I can do”.

Before the evening comes to a close, Alexander kindly donates one of his works to the Gynaecological Cancer Fund to which 10% of all sales will be donated.

Don’t miss the exhibition: open until 30th May at D Contemporary!

Article & Illustration by: Dominique Marchi