Alexander James explores the mechanics of water as a primary medium for three decades through a studio and location based practice. Works are documented underwater on analogue cameras without the use of post production. The Distil Ennui Studio was formed by the artist in 1990. Since 2013 all prints released are unique with no editions ever to be released.
Introductory text on Alexander James, by Andrei Tolstoy:
'Artist Alexander James creates meticulously crafted sculptural scenes; using studio made props, breeding butterflies, growing period specific flowers, hand making the dress and 24 carat gold halo for his Ophelia in 'Witness', 2012 from 'A beautiful announcement of death'; endeavours that imbue a harmonious dialogue with his subject that is ultimately to be encased within a vast underwater landscape. He does this solely for one purpose, that of documenting the realisation on a single 8 * 10 inch analogue camera plate.
These photographic plates are the only existing record of a far bigger conceptual process that is produced through his complete dedication to a renaissance studio practice. Perhaps in an effort to exercise a form of control; to relive its tragic baroque beauty. To preserve its memory, from ever being able to fade away.
The introduction of water serves its purpose both symbolically and as the functional device through which to achieve the painterly execution of these works; with the interaction of brushes and the artists bare hands on the surface tension of the water, literally painting the subject in light; the results of which are aching with the dramatic radiance of Caravaggio.
Working with analogue camera equipment and without post production, his life long dedication to in-camera purity establishes it's provenance when linked to painstaking preparatory work. '
- Andrei Tolstoy, (née. Leo Tolstoy), 1956-2016. Professor of Arts, Russian Academy of Arts & President AICA Russia, May 2014.