A Dozen : James Roper

After a weeks hiatus, A Dozen is back with a talented artist from the UK, James Roper. Enjoy the interview.


The Ecstasy of Catalina Cruz
mixed media on paper
29.5cm x 42cm

What led you to become an artist?

A drive to express myself and communicate ideas that I couldn’t do through any other means.

How were you educated in your field?

Even though I’ve studied art since high school I still feel like I’m self taught but with a certain amount of guidance along the way via teachers and especially listening to other artists.

The Divining Censer

The Divining Censer
acrylic on canvas
95cm x 100cm

What differentiates your work from the next artist?

The varying interests of every artist combine together to make their work unique. I am interested in a variety of subjects some having very opposing themes such as religion and pornography or Zen philosophy and material excess.

Where have you seen the best emerging art scenes transform?

I’m very wary of art scenes. I seem to get grouped in with street/urban art a lot which doesn’t make much sense to me, it just highlights peoples need to define parameters around vague aesthetic similarities so they can try and understand them (or market them). I also seem to be placed within an art scene which is more prominent in the U.S. which exists between ‘low brow’ and ‘high brow’ art. I guess you could call it ‘middle brow’, it seems a lot more in tune with aesthetic pleasure without being throw away as with low brow advertising or getting lost in convoluted intellectualising as you get in high brow art.


Exit vehicle 1
mixed media on paper
42cm x 29.5cm

Would you rather be part of a revolutionary movement or an evolutionary movement?

I don’t like the idea that if you revolt against something you define yourself and your actions around the very thing you dislike, but although evolution on the whole seems more natural and steady sometimes there is a need to change things drastically.

Who have been some of your major influences?

There are to many to mention, here’s a few in no particular order: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Katsushiro Otomo, Shintaro Kago, Francis Bacon, Jeff Koons, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Hans Bellmer, Takashi Murakami, J.G. Ballard, Slavoj Zizek, David Lynch, Andy Warhol, Brett Easton Ellis, Derren Brown, V.S. Ramachandran, Matthew Collings, Gilles Deleuze, Matthew Ritchie, Matthew Barney, Inka Essenhigh, Francesca Lowe…..

Push the pull

Push the pull
acrylic on canvas
170cm x 180cm

What makes art collectives so successful these days?

I’ve always worked alone so have no real knowledge of how a collective works. In a way I guess it’s like having a brand name, something people can more easily identify you with and build up a certain aura around a number of artists who would otherwise be less successful working on their own.

What advice can you give to the next emerging artist?

Be original. Be your own worst critic and listen to others criticism, you don’t learn if you think you’re doing everything right. Dedicate yourself fully to your art, don’t take up valuable studio space if you intend on doing it half-heartedly. Don’t be part of the art school fashion parade, the ones who succeed spend their time being artists not trying to look or talk like one. Don’t self indulge but try and truly affect people (there’s nothing worst than passive art), but don’t use cheap shocks or cliched attempts at beauty to achieve it. Look at as much art as possible, and don’t ignore the old masters. As an artist living today you have via the internet the most expansive database ever on which to discover new art and ideas, use it. And, just because Francis Bacon was a drunk doesn’t mean drinking will make you paint like Francis Bacon. He was a painting genius, you’re not.

Inverse excess 2

Inverse excess 2
acrylic on canvas
40cm x 40cm

Would you say that creating art is in your DNA?

Partly, but looking back I’d say there were many outside factors that pushed me into becoming an artist as well.

What other styles have proven to be the most therapeutic in collaborating with your own unique styles?

I recently co-wrote and worked on the production design for a short film which was very different to how I normally work. Painting is a very solitary activity where I make every decision myself, where as film making is very collaborative and relies on a lot of people. The ideas and visuals I want to express through film are very different to what I put in my work, it allows me to bring out other aspects of my work.


‘Into the Fold’ installation

How do you feel about the current recession that has been happening in the art world (or do you think that the contemporary art industry is recession proof)?

I’ve heard it said that it will allow artists to take more risks with their art because the creative process will be less defined by how sellable the work is. Personally I’ve always wanted to make work that sells, I don’t do work for the sake of it and although it is self expression I’m not sure I’d have the drive to make so much were I not selling. I want my work to be desired, and the ultimate complement is someone wanting to own it.

Where do you see your work progressing in the next ten years?

I want to work more in other mediums like sculpture and film. I tend to get bored of working in one particular way quite quickly so I wouldn’t be surprised if my work isn’t drastically different from how it is now.

Collapse Inversion 3

Collapse Inversion 3
acrylic on canvas
55cm x 33cm

::images courtesy of James Roper ::


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Posted: September 24th, 2009
at 12:59pm by Koookiecrumbles

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Categories: contemporary,a dozen

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