James Vaulkhard to Exhibit with Guerin Projects at British Art Fair

Guerin Projects Founder Marie-Claudine (MC) Llamas will present a solo exhibition of artist James Vaulkhard at the British Art Fair in September. British Art Fair is one of the leading fairs for Modern and Contemporary British Art, and returns to the Saatchi Gallery between 26 to 29 September, 2024.

Marie Claudine Llamas recently presented a sell-out exhibition of James D. Kelly’s photography at Photo London, which generated much praise in media including The Times and The Guardian, and her presentation of James Vauklhard’s enigmatic paintings and drawings at the British Art Fair promises to be an equally hot ticket. Guerin Projects will exhibit a curated selection of new oil paintings and drawings inspired by Vaulkhard’s life in Nairobi, Kenya, where he spent his childhood and formed life-long relationships with the local people and a love of nature and the Kenyan landscape. Highlights of Vaulkhard’s new work that will be exhibited at British Art Fair include a large-scale portrait of a fisherman Vaulkhard has known since his childhood, as well as paintings and drawings of the Kenyan coast and landscape, and an enigmatic painting of a canoeist on Lake Naivasha in Nairobi, all captured in a fauvist, Post-impressionist palette, with a hint of magical realism and influences of Peter Doig and Matisse.  

James Vaulkhard ‘The Fisherman’, 150 x 100 cm, Oil on Canvas, 2023.


James Vaulkhard: “In my recent series, one observes a profound entanglement with the characters of my formative years and the vivid essence of a landscape that is inextricably tied to my identity. These paintings transcend mere representation; they become vessels of memory, spontaneous yet deliberate tributes to the intricate interplay between nature and the nuanced tapestry of human relationships.”

Kenyan-born artist James Vaulkhard had a classical training as a portrait painter at the Charles Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy. His aesthetic roots lie in the realm of classical oil painting but he is perhaps best known for his modern multi-media approach to portraiture, particularly in the medium of collage. His contemporary works seek to address and respond to various issues of the zeitgeist. Vaulkhard blends a traditional artistic foundation with contemporary experimentation, and his artistic practice blends past with present, tradition with innovation, inviting viewers to pause and reflect upon the beauty that permeates both the natural world and the human experience. Vaulkhard’s star is truly in the ascendant, and he was named as ‘the artist to watch’ by The Gentleman’s Journal in 2018. 

 James Vaulkhard, ‘The Direction’, 40 x 40 cm, oil on Canvas, 2023.


Guerin Projects Founder MC Llamas is rapidly making a name for herself as a star curator of the next generation, and prominent figure on the contemporary art scene, with acclaimed exhibitions over the past decade including “A Comfortable Man” by Chas Smash at Wiltons Music Hall and “The Power of She” at Bowman Sculpture. 

Marie-Claudine Llamas: “I have been working with James for years and I have been a witness to his masterful growth from Florentine representative way of painting, to an abstract, emotional one. His use of color now is deeply symbolic and filled with vulnerability. His work is extremely generous, and is the result of arduous technical and emotional trials.” 

Vaulkhard is deeply involved in the community and has set up an artist residency in Nairobi, where he is involved in a conservation project to protect the land from developers. 

His work emerges as an amalgamation of classical techniques intertwined with experimental visual expressions. It is through the utilisation of bold, assertive colours and meticulously crafted processes that he ventures into the abstract domains of nature. This approach does not merely depict, but rather, it interrogates the intrinsic complexities and subtleties found within the natural world.

James Vaulkhard, ‘God First Boat Trip’, 37.5 x 55 cm, Soft pastel on paper, 2024.


The Guerin Projects exhibition at British Art Fair will feature 4 large-scale oil paintings and around 15 chalk pastel drawings, all spotlighting the natural beauty of Nairobi and  capturing some enigmatic characters from the local community. 

James Vaulkhard: “‘The peculiar nature of the universe lies in its fleeting physical manifestation, existing solely in the present moment. In my recent series, I find myself entwined with the echoes of my youth and the vibrant essence of a land intrinsically linked to my being. These paintings serve as vessels of memory, spontaneous tributes to the interplay of nature and the delicate tapestry of relationships. Through them, I endeavour to capture the ephemeral beauty of the past, forging a bridge to the present with each artwork.

For Vaulkhard, the endeavour to capture the ephemeral beauty of the past is not simply an exercise in nostalgia, it is a sophisticated attempt to forge a tangible bridge to the present, encapsulating the transient yet impactful moments that define our existence. Each artwork presented at British Art Fair is a testament to the fleeting nature of time, articulated through a dialogue between colour and form that is both evocative and intellectually stimulating.

Artist Peterson Kamwathi adds: “I live in a rural area just outside Nairobi and a number of the scenography’s depicted in James artworks are familiar. Vegetation, terrain and our insertion into these physical sites seem to be at the center to James Vaulkhard’s latest paintings and drawings. Superbly rendered, this subject matter is recognizable as it works to gently nudge at our attitudes towards nature, memory and relationships.

The familiarity I mention is not a linkage to specific places but is rather one anchored on personal resonances; this recognition that the activity or space portrayed goes beyond mere representation and serves as an evocation of cycles of seasons, motions of daily activity, the smell of the earth, our place in it and inevitably, the decay. I have been constantly drawn to the areas of shade in the artworks.  Apart from accentuating the glamour and dynamism of colour, these areas of shadow, shade and silhouette inject a measure of disquiet into the James’s artworks.  Do shadows become the portals into the realms of memory? Do shadows have reflections? Looking at these artworks, I can appreciate the weight of the alluring yet vital inconsistency that is embedded into our relationship with the natural/physical world. For me, here the shadows have reflections.”

James Vaulkhard ‘The Shamba’, 37.5 x 55 cm, Soft pastel on paper, 2024.

The British Art Fair is at Saatchi Gallery from 26 September – 29 September 2024 https://www.britishartfair.co.uk

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