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James Capper: Hydra Painter & The Rotary Paintings of 2020

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Albion Barn Gallery / Oxford / Art

When the first lockdown set in, James Capper, a London-born sculptor and artist, was working on a large steel installation along the River Thames. The shipping yard closed, his project was halted, and Capper returned to his studio, which is itself in a shipping container. It was stuffed with the flotsam of research and abandoned pieces, among them a hydra painter Capper engineered in 2015 and had forgotten about. The machine works a bit like a turntable, but here it’s the tone arm—with paint roller attached—that spins, leaving circles of color on a paper fixed beneath. Capper produced orbits of deftly composed color with glowing white centers, minimalist images that targeted the sameness, the endless round, of days during lockdown. In 2021, Capper made a new, bigger hydra painter and began producing another series of daily paintings, these ones given titles taken from newspaper headlines and government briefings. In a sense, they’re “records” of life these days. —C.J.F.

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Albion Barn Gallery Church Hill, Little Milton, Oxford OX44 7QB, UK
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