Born in Kenya and educated in the UK and Florence to study art, James Vaulkhard is a creative whose background is as mixed as his style. Although classically trained as a portrait artist, today he’s renowned for working in many different mediums, and as a result has developed an unorthodox, unique aesthetic which blends conventional techniques with innovative, experimental narratives.
“My work is a result of my journey to understand art and how we as humans perceive the world around us. I enjoy exploring the philosophy or language of art by experimenting with different techniques, mediums and narratives, ” he says.
To date, Vaulkhard has produced work for group and solo shows, as well as for private collectors, which has spread him from Europe, to the US and Asia. However, his most renowned works in recent years has been his 2017 Bond-themed exhibition, The Lovers Who Spy – a show which displayed collage-style portraits of Ian Fleming’s iconic characters.
He saw the project as a new challenge, due mainly to the fact he’d be working with collage – a medium he had little experience with. To create his pieces, Vaulkhard set about collecting erotic images and placing them in categories of lights, darks and mid tones. He then made the template of the portraits for the collage work to be placed on – during this particular stage, the lessons he learned during his years in Tuscany came to fruition as his mastery of form and proportion were key in producing the outline of his subject.
Each image was then carefully chosen for its value, but most importantly, how it best suited the contours and planes of each Bond actor’s face. Vaulkhard remarked: “Like an old master painting the work comes into focus at a distance, but appears quite abstract up close. It was a leap of faith, incredibly slow and demanded huge amounts of patience.”
Although this was unknown territory for Vaulkhard, the final exhibition was far from one that belonged to an amateur in the medium – the portrait of Daniel Craig’s Bond, in particular, drew attention at the event.
To see highlights from last November’s The Lovers Who Spy exhibition, check out the video below.