James Lemon
Apr 04 - Apr 30


‘Carpe, Babes’

When I think of artist and raconteur James Lemon, I conjure the image of a neo-Wildean gollum. Lemon, like his work, is charming and brash in the best sort of way. He is also layered and complex, bursting with energy and intellect. A walking rolodex of pop culture riffs and quips, his creations and his musings are the provocations of a creative roiling against blissful ignorance and pervasive monoculture, testily exploring the limits and gleefully eroding the edifice.

Asked to describe the central theme of his play The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wildeonce remarked “that we should treat all trivial things in life very seriously, and all serious things of life with a sincere and studied triviality”. Many consider Earnest a direct satire of institutions and late Victorian conformity, deriding the oblivious pursuit of status and respectability. There is a fun parallel between these dandy’s, each subversive and misunderstood in their own context. Embedded in our evolving contemporary landscape, shuddering with climate catastrophe, moral crises and social injustice on an institutional scale, Lemon’s work as an artist is as much a satire of these conditions as it is an attempt to grapple with them at a personal and existential level. Like Wilde, he is also concerned with the language of aesthetics, in this case “the aesthetics of contemporary end-times” and the “erotics of the end”.

For his latest solo exhibition ‘Carpe, Babes’, Lemon gazes unflinchingly at mortality and conceptualisations of apocalypse, touching on climate dystopia and exploring the effigies and motifs of his Pentecostal religious upbringing. Working with clay, precious metals, glaze and kilnfurniture, this body of work extends his previous explorations of materiality. Clay, with itselemental telluric origins embodies a powerful source material of creation, as well as being the fold to which all will one day return. Lemon’s work posits a defiant jubilance, a denouncement of denial, embracing instead a frenzied awareness of the end that is as much about relishing the here and now at is it is about confronting our inevitable doom. Like the character Thomasin (Anya-Taylor Joy) in the final scenes of The Witch (2015), it is a cackling, yawning cry as we return to the circle and to the earth from which we came. Hysterical, really.

Photography by;
Annika Kafcaloudis