14 (James Collins)


About PM/AM

PM/AM is a contemporary art gallery located on the border of Soho and Fitzorovia in the heart of London. It hosts a busy programme of shows across the two exhibition floors of the Eastcastle Street space. The gallery’s lower ground floor studio provides the location for a residency space for international and under-represented artists to develop their practice. Together the spaces form a unique cultural and creative hub in the bustling centre of the city.

PM/AM’s mission is to reflect through art how we engage with ourselves and the world today, expressed through the artists it is fortunate enough to work with. Recent graduates, those emerging into the spotlight and in their mid-careers on the international stage all feature across a dynamic programme. The gallery works on the vanguard of the emerging art sector, responsible for finding artists of tomorrow, and is keen to explore and present work originating from the many interlocking diasporas of the world. PM/AM’s plays a part in the incubation of contemporary art’s future by representing a carefully selected roster of artists, working with them to initiate and grow lasting careers in the global art world.

As a dynamic arts organisation PM/AM’s activities extend beyond exhibitions into consultation, publications and editorial, providing the means to facilitate placements with collectors and institutions, and create extended content to further support and expose the artists we work with. This self-contained structure is key to the gallery’s broad outlook and capabilities, however we value collaborations with external writers, curators and other galleries to realise our goals.

Exhibition Text

Bringing a painting into existence is a complex process of ordering thoughts, experiences and honed skills, applying a notion of intention and will, and allowing this entire cerebral mass to fuse disparate physical materials into a cohesive whole. There are huge variations in how artists approach the more detailed aspects of this operation, and in some cases we can find that certain rules have been bent, and others broken.

James Collins is a case in point. His work appears not to clearly recognise the relatively linear creative passage from point A to point B. Instead, he may reach a conclusive moment in the assembling of a new painting, only to reassign the whole thing as a new material to deconstruct and reappropriate. There is a sense of brutality to this – the work itself is stripped of its own potential at a pivotal point, all but cast aside for the notion of something more desirable. This concept however conceals an abstract notion of positivity, an ideal that says we may not need to settle on our initial achievements; we possess the power to push further.

For Collins the practical implication of this is simply to paint and sculpt more, to work the canvas, work the paint, to move beyond that first plateau of creative satisfaction into a limitless unknown: 

“I’m interested in the alchemy of paint. The colours I use have particular properties that I try to utilise within the work. One type of paint can be used to bring forward one part of the painting; a deeper colour can add an internal space for the painting to sink into. Deciding which colour goes where is something born out of trying to understand what that particular colour can offer the painting.”
—James Collins

When viewing the finished work, a sense of the unknown does indeed hang in the background, symbolised by consistently dark hues and efforts to conceal direct meaning. All is not lost to the void, however. The viewer is lured into the depths, encouraged by a loose framework of contradictions and allusions that – it is somehow inherently understood – will never give up their mysteries. Geometric pathways, cut through the surface like ancient river routes, create segmented, hieroglyphic creatures to some eyes; to others they could be inhabited landscapes. Patches of spectral colour appear within the late twilight blues and galactic black, suggesting the layered history of geology or the background churn of the universe.

“The forms in my work are partly designed and partly developed in the making process. It might be that one side of the painting feels heavy and dominant, so I may carve further into that space. Balance, size and scale are components which feed off each other in my work.”
—James Collins

We may retain a statement of poignancy in that the surface does not tell us all there is about what we are looking at and seeking to understand. To experience the depth of James’ work is to recognise the history laid out on each canvas, supporting the surface, connecting elements of an artistic process that is itself both psychological and geological. This deceptive intricacy tells us of our own experience with the earth beneath us, and the stars above.

Daniel Mackenzie
October 2021


James Collins
Born: 1992, Darlington, England.
Lives and works in Darlington.


2017 – Master of Arts, Royal College of Art.
2015 – BA (Hons), Wimbledon College of Art.

Solo Exhibitions

2022 – Painters Painting Paintings.
2021 – 15. PM/AM, London.
2021 – Penumbra. Claas Reiss, London.
2021 – Occultation. Car Drde, Bologna.
2018 – James Collins and Lars Worm. Bjorn and Gundorph, Aarhus.

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 – Hideaway. Monti8 Gallery, Latina.
2020 – Abstract with Figure. James Fuentes, New York.
2017 – Lost and Found. Rod Barton, London.
2016 – John Moores Painting Prize. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
2016 – Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015. The ICA, London.