I’d count myself as a long term fan of Jimmy C’s work. I first encountered it while exploring the extensive DIY arts and music complex on Revaler Strasse in Friedrichshain, hunting for good photography opportunities and eyeing up a visit to the nearby Urban Spree gallery (see below).
His work is predominantly, but not exclusively, portraiture with a style that sets him aside as something quite different in the current scene. His paintings are constructed from small circles of paint, utilising specific aerosol caps with a delicate technique to create something much larger in a pointillist style. In this way it could be described as being atomised, as the title of this latest exhibition from James Cochran, aka Jimmy C, at Lollipop Gallery suggests.
Atomised concentrates on the fundamental dualities of life, male and female, light and dark, clean and dirty, old and young.
Interestingly the exhibition is also split over two levels. A darker and more intimidating subterranean space with no natural light holds only artworks with a male subject while the cleaner, slicker, lighter ground floor contains only work with a female lead.
This duality runs through every aspect of the fascinating exhibition, featuring some of the most unusual pieces Jimmy C has produced through his distinguished career to date. Something I always appreciate about artists who also paint in the streets, is that when exhibiting indoors they utilise the different spaces and media available to them very well. Cochran gets this one spot on.
Three pieces from this exhibition really stood out, defining Atomised.
The first was the interactive gallery chair. Inviting visitors to take a seat, they instantly have their own Jimmy C style real-time portrait ‘painted’ on screen. Cochran has made use of technology to both give the portrait relevance in a time when it is lacking. He also shows that the audience has moved on from an age when sitting for a portrait would have been perfectly acceptable to one where it feels utterly alien.
After all, for the selfie addicted millennial, it’s conceivable that the only time they may now sit for a portrait is at a seaside town for an identikit pencil caricature.
Cochran’s thematic artery feeding each piece of the exhibition can also be seen in his neon heart piece. His statement explains that atomised or atomic “suggests a scar in human memory but also a potential source of energy”. His view of energy is that it will carry us into the future, and must be harnessed for a positive end. The vibrant colours exploding from within the heart shaped neon light pulls these ideas together, the electric energy of the light and the positive love from the heart shape combining excellently.
Finally, his self portrait sculpture in the more rough and ready section of the exhibition really drew my attention. A three dimensional interpretation of his paintings was really exciting to explore from every angle. Jimmy’s paintings always contain depth, and this sculpture effectively drops the viewer into how he envisages his portraits in his mind’s eye. It acts to suspend the viewer inside one of his paintings with the ability to view it from all perspectives.
The sphere acts as the three dimensional version of the circle he uses so well on his chosen canvas. It represents both the atom, on a micro level, and celestial body like a planet or moon at a macro level. Again this interesting theme of duality features heavily.
It’s the juxtaposition of the macro and micro together, the enormity of the universe and the basic matter that lies beneath a superficial view of what we see, that Cochran aims to pull out in the exhibition. In my opinion, he does so in skillful, varied and thoughtful fashion.