PM/AM is a London based contemporary art gallery, residency program, and incubator whose mission it is to reflect how we engage with art today. Dedicated to growing and nurturing emerging talent, as well as gaining exposure for artists without formal U.K. representation, the platform has organised exhibitions globally and events across its home city, using a flexible space model to accommodate the diversity and dynamism of the artists’ practices they showcase. It also has two permanent locations—one central, one west.
PM/AM has a reputation for discovering and helping to launch the careers of some of the most exciting contemporary artists of today. While its focus is on international talent, it also has a keen interest in UK based artists coming out of the country’s leading art schools. As well as maintaining a traditional exhibition programme, PM/AM is dedicated to finding new ways of working with the artistic community, expanding upon its shows with events, ongoing residency projects, and pilot schemes designed to connect collectors with the artists they love.
The London residency is of particular focus, further cementing the gallery’s commitment to growing and shaping artists’ careers by giving them a space to create and introducing them to the local artistic community. Rather than following the accepted representation model, PM/AM aims to facilitate ongoing support for the artists it works with through instinctive management beyond and outside of exhibition and residency collaborations.
PM/AM has been featured extensively in the press, garnering coverage from leading publications including The Times, Art Forum, The New York Times, Independent Magazine, The Guardian, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Face, Dazed, Hyperallergic, Elephant Magazine, The Financial Times, Juxtapoz and Purple Diary.
Bringing a painting into existence is a complex process of ordering thoughts, experiences and honed skills, applying a notion of intention and will, and allowing this entire cerebral mass to fuse disparate physical materials into a cohesive whole. There are huge variations in how artists approach the more detailed aspects of this operation, and in some cases we can find that certain rules have been bent, and others broken.
James Collins is a case in point. His work appears not to clearly recognise the relatively linear creative passage from point A to point B. Instead, he may reach a conclusive moment in the assembling of a new painting, only to reassign the whole thing as a new material to deconstruct and reappropriate. There is a sense of brutality to this – the work itself is stripped of its own potential at a pivotal point, all but cast aside for the notion of something more desirable. This concept however conceals an abstract notion of positivity, an ideal that says we may not need to settle on our initial achievements; we possess the power to push further.
For Collins the practical implication of this is simply to paint and sculpt more, to work the canvas, work the paint, to move beyond that first plateau of creative satisfaction into a limitless unknown:
“I’m interested in the alchemy of paint. The colours I use have particular properties that I try to utilise within the work. One type of paint can be used to bring forward one part of the painting; a deeper colour can add an internal space for the painting to sink into. Deciding which colour goes where is something born out of trying to understand what that particular colour can offer the painting.”
When viewing the finished work, a sense of the unknown does indeed hang in the background, symbolised by consistently dark hues and efforts to conceal direct meaning. All is not lost to the void, however. The viewer is lured into the depths, encouraged by a loose framework of contradictions and allusions that – it is somehow inherently understood – will never give up their mysteries. Geometric pathways, cut through the surface like ancient river routes, create segmented, hieroglyphic creatures to some eyes; to others they could be inhabited landscapes. Patches of spectral colour appear within the late twilight blues and galactic black, suggesting the layered history of geology or the background churn of the universe.
“The forms in my work are partly designed and partly developed in the making process. It might be that one side of the painting feels heavy and dominant, so I may carve further into that space. Balance, size and scale are components which feed off each other in my work.”
We may retain a statement of poignancy in that the surface does not tell us all there is about what we are looking at and seeking to understand. To experience the depth of James’ work is to recognise the history laid out on each canvas, supporting the surface, connecting elements of an artistic process that is itself both psychological and geological. This deceptive intricacy tells us of our own experience with the earth beneath us, and the stars above.
Born: 1992, Darlington, England.
Lives and works in Darlington.
2017 – Master of Arts, Royal College of Art.
2015 – BA (Hons), Wimbledon College of Art.
2022 – Painters Painting Paintings.
2021 – 15. PM/AM, London.
2021 – Penumbra. Claas Reiss, London.
2021 – Occultation. Car Drde, Bologna.
2018 – James Collins and Lars Worm. Bjorn and Gundorph, Aarhus.
Selected Group Exhibitions
2021 – Hideaway. Monti8 Gallery, Latina.
2020 – Abstract with Figure. James Fuentes, New York.
2017 – Lost and Found. Rod Barton, London.
2016 – John Moores Painting Prize. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
2016 – Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015. The ICA, London.