James Carl: Assembly

April 1 - May 8, 2021

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce Assembly, an exhibition of new sculptures and drawings as well as recent prints by James Carl. The exhibition will open on April 1st and run until April 24th. This is Carl’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.


James Carl is known for his playful use of unconventional materials, such as cardboard, venetian blinds and polymer clay. His work’s material choices are rooted in a conceptual framework which ranges from evocative and ironic critiques of globalisation and consumerism, to celebrations of 20th century modern sculpture. Carefully crafted, his works appear at once foreign and familiar, the common objects of daily life reconfigured and reconsidered.


Carl’s most recent drawings of spoons, Pom bottles and a few other iconic silhouettes are rendered in silver leaf, each gradually developing a patina over time. Starting with a digital tracing, he flips, reflects, duplicates and scales the objects, pushing the image towards abstraction, and forcing the viewer to re-assemble their perceptions of the original object. This notion of assembly is the essence of Carl’s work – he asks us not only to understand how the world is put together but asks us to participate in that construction.


I began "drawing" with silver leaf in 2018. Applying metal leaf requires first of all the application of adhesive sizing, which I do with a fine brush. This, along with the subsequent application of the leaf, creates a sort of unpredictable degradation of the original computer drawings, softening lines, adding uncertainty, while maintaining much of the graphic clarity that I value. The whole process – the slowing down, the placement of fluttering silver tissue, the holding of the breath – turned out to be just what I'd been looking for, both in the process and in the results. 

– James Carl


Alongside the silver drawings are three marble “Spindle” sculptures. The workshave clear reference points in modernist sculpture and popular culture. All variations on the iconic Pom bottle form, the Spindles are assembled in two parts, a unique Pom bottle rendering and its base. The two components are complementary in both colour and form, the colour being derived from marble sourced in Greece and Italy. The unique, hand-finished sculptures can be read as “trophies for unspecified accomplishments, hommages to the small-scale sculptures of Giacometti, or petrified puffs of geological time”.


To access the viewing room, click here.

To view the virtual exhibition walkthrough, click here.