“PS proudly presents the new exhibition Kruisvormen by James William Murray.
Murray is an artist based in the coastal city of Brighton, England who makes sculptures, drawings, and print-based work.
Since 2022 Murray has pursued an austere formalism based on the proportions of a 2:1 cross form. This form is obscured, traversed, fragmented, permutated, and repeated through layered processes of abstraction. All his work begins with manual graphite drawings, which are translated into digital drawings before being realised spatially.
For his first exhibition in the Netherlands, Murray is presenting examples from two new bodies of work. Marfa Cross Forms #1-12 is a series of monoprints developed from graphite drawings he made during a residency in Marfa, Texas, USA, in the summer of 2022. Cross form emerging #2 is a wall-mounted sculpture made with brass tube braised with silver. The form reveals how the 2:1 cross emerged from previous bodies of work. Murray titled the exhibition Kruisvormen as he likes how the words ‘cross forms’ translate from English into a single word in Dutch”.
The exhibition can be visited on Saturdays 13–17 hrs. and by appointment.
22 January – 26 February 2023
You are currently presenting your new solo exhibition, Kruisvormen, at PS Project Space in Amsterdam; what sort of new artworks do you showcase at that show?
I am exhibiting a series of 12 monoprints, a wall-hung sculpture, and a drawing. The prints, ‘Marfa cross forms’ are unique works; thus, ‘monoprint’ seems the most appropriate way to describe them. They are made with beeswax, vegetable dye, and carbon black pigment on paper. The process involves a combination of automated and manual techniques, which I developed over the past several months. ‘Cross form emerging #2’ is a wall-hung sculpture made with square section brass tube, brazed with silver. ‘Cross form emerging #1’ – the ‘drawing’ – is made with spot-welded steel rods, which I left in my backyard for several weeks to develop an iron oxide patina, i.e. rust. It is an edition of 10, which is part of a new strategy to produce works at a wider range of price points.
How would you define your newest work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
My best work.
‘Cross Form Emerging’ or ‘Marfa Cross Forms’ are some basic titles of your new works. Would it be too obvious to ask if the object of a cross or its forms were the main core of your inspiration?
These works are all based around a 2:1 cross form, which is essentially a Latin cross. I am a Catholic and the cross is a Christian symbol. However, within the context of my work, I am drawn to the cross for its seemingly boundless formal possibilities as a motif to de/reconstruct. These are not allegorical works, hence the utilitarian titles. ’Marfa Cross forms’ was given that title because I began working on the series in Marfa, Texas, last summer. It is intended more as a ‘note to self’ than information for the viewer. ‘Cross form emerging #1 and #2 quite literally depict a cross form emerging from a 2:1 rectangle. Everything one needs to know about the work is contained within the forms of the art object, and the titles reflect this. I have fully embraced formalism as a critical position in this sense.
Observing your new works, there is a particular concentration on straight lines and a dynamic interplay among them, no matter if they’re, for instance, tinier or bolder. Nevertheless, each time, the order or the use of these lines, as well as their density, leads to a visually alternative result. Was the idea of geometry an important element in your mind before you started creating these works in your studio?
Proportion and ratio, points, lines, angles, elevations et cetera, are central to my work. And yes, these are indeed geometric concerns. However, when I made the initial drawings for ‘Marfa cross forms’, I wasn’t consciously thinking about geometry. I just started drawing and the forms slowly revealed themselves to me. When I am drawing, I try not to think about anything – I just follow the forms and focus on the qualities of mark-making. It is an embodied practice, and it can be quite meditative. I find it very rewarding to work in this way.
Taking into account the notion of materiality and its creative aspect in your artistry, what sort of material mainly attracted you in order to build up your new body of work?
I am drawn to certain materials for their beauty and tactility. There are also logistic and financial considerations: what can I get my hands on? I buy great chunks of unfiltered beeswax from a farm in Sussex near my studio. It is a relatively affordable and incredibly versatile material; I have carved it, cast it, used it as a medium for painting, and applied it as a protective layer or sealant… It is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal and resistant to most acids, so it has excellent archival qualities. There are beeswax figurines in the British Museum collection that are over 2000 years old.
Which are your plans for the near future?
I am currently working on several new sculptures, which will take the next few months to finish and document. I am looking forward to spending the month of May in The Netherlands, mostly just relaxing. I find the work benefits when I take breaks from the studio to be elsewhere for a while.
All images courtesy of the artist