Nathan James: Creepshow at The Cob Gallery
Nathan James has evolved. He has done the Mimmo Rotella slashed billboard thing. He has done the funky assemblage of Jeff Koons and Matt Mailand. His work has been both attractive and addressing, but Creepshow showcases a much more focused and conceptual vein of work from the artist.
A perfect mix of surrealist-grotesque and realism makes Creepshow a super entertaining experience. Disney motifs and Warner Bros clichés combine with the most exquisite paintwork to form arresting and transfixing pieces, which explore a nightmarish world between celebrity fiction and grotesque humanist truths.
Superbly lit below the streets of Camden, the show takes us on a journey that investigates the relationship between beauty, fallacy and vulgarity. Good looks are shed in dribbling wax, and faces are disfigured with universal symbols of the cartoon world. Here, celebrity is reduced to a grotesque mass of misshapen form and ridiculous comicality.
James’ painting technique is accurate and beautiful, and it plays an important part in exaggerating the message he communicates. The simplistic 2D cartoon clashes with artistic brilliance to encapsulate the plastic nature of fame, social media and synthetic identity. Creepshow is an arresting ode to the impermanence of beauty and “happiness”. Where do we truly find those things? Are our ideas of recognition based on artifice? The show would suggest that we are indeed finding ourselves on a very mortal and blind pursuit of social exposure.
The progression in Nathan James’ work is worthy of acknowledgement. Ideas examined in past works have matured and intensified and have been further contextualised. This is a collection intended to make the viewer uncomfortable and it is successful. The underlying ideas have been probed by many artists, but Creepshow is fruitful in its attempts to unnerve, provoke and captivate. Guaranteed you will never look at Mickey Mouse’s gloves in the same way again.
Nathan James: Creepshow is at the Cob Gallery until 7th April 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.