James Owens (b. 1995) is a painter based in south-east London. Owens work has been showcased at the National Gallery, the Evening Standard Art Prize and sold at Liberty, London. His work gathers past, present and imagined scenes to form new narratives, which operate in moments of liminality. In these works, he actively avoids being the puppet-master pulling the strings. Instead, he sits alongside the viewer and watches the performance unfold. These cliffhangers allow the narrative to extend into future works. For the artist, painting can be a means for catharsis, a way to explore the fabric of memory and heritage through largely figurative works.
Hugely influenced by his childhood spent in the Cotswolds and a fisherman’s village in the north-east of England, Owens sources material varies from memories, archive photographs, sketches and objects. Film, animation and
children’s books and their devilish undertones also play a part in his construction of narratives—for example in his use of dark silhouettes which roam through the scenes as burglars, strangers and the subconscious. His process is vast. Painting from multiple crude sketches from the source material, layers build up over days until a more refined image appears. The tempo then slows down as the detail is then applied. Improvised brush
strokes leak through the layers, dry and dense marks are juxtaposed in the background.