James Baily


James Baily

The Body As An Ever Changing Shape

Interview by Daen Palma Huse

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Artist James Baily draws heavily on modernist design for inspiration. The five oil pastels that can be seen here are part of a (yet) untitled on-going series. The artist explores shapes of objects and the human form. He says that, on an aesthetic level, the body is an ever changing and complex shape – a mass of curves, edges, lines and angles. To him the human form has a sensibility, which objects do not.

His love of shapes shows in his colourful yet subtle works that lend themselves for a long exploration by the viewer’s eye. The depth that is created through different forms and layering is unique.

We talked with James about these particular works:

Do you work in oil pastel straight away or do you usually do sketches before?

Straight in with the technique, in the life room. This technique emerged from lots of traditional life drawing and abstract work with paper cut outs. I found cuts outs to flat and removed from observation but I enjoyed playing with shapes, shifting them about, discovering interesting patterns, shapes and compositions. The drawings didn't excite me in this way but they did describe the space and form. Using this technique I combine both elements.

What lay at the start for these five compositions in particular? The human body or geometric forms or colour?

At first it was the human body. Then I added a chair laying in the corner or an object. From that I decided to treat the body the same way as the object. I realised that a door, a wall, the ground, ceiling, light/shadow could all be treated in the same way. From that I try to create a solid image which communicates specifics about the place, figure and objects and how they relate. This is what excites me.

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Do you find yourself working in a similar colour palette a lot or does this change over time and with projects?

I've tried to change the colour palette but I usually end up with the one you see. At the time they seem the natural choice to describe the light, object etc. Sometimes I go over a colour with another one if I think I made the wrong choice. 

How would you say fine art links in with writing, reading, film and fashion design?

They are all vehicles, which communicate personal or known experiences with others. 

If you could collaborate in a creative project with one of the following: an architect, designer, writer or film maker of your choice - which would you chose if any and is there anyone you can think of in particular?

Probably the architect Erno Goldfinger. You should look at his house in Hampstead, 2 Willow Road.

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All images of artworks by James Baily.

James Baily’s work is available as prints as well as selected originals. For details please contact us.