James Capper at Vigo


It’s not often that I get to go Exhibition openings so it was with genuine excitement that I strolled down to Dering Street in the company of a few fellow flâneurs to see James Capper’s Porta Carve at Vigo. Vigo is tucked away in the armpit of Oxford and Regent Street, hard by a Crossrail building site but don’t let this put you off visiting – Capper’s work is well worth the trip.

The opening night was a spectacle. We arrived to find plaster-spattered canvases arranged around the walls, menacing power tools snaking across the floor and a smattering of fellow sophisticates clutching cold Coronas on a hot September evening. And we thought we’d missed the main event.

But no, we were assured that James would be back to do his thing at 7 and 8 o’clock so in the meantime we mingled, looked at the works and learnt a bit about Capper’s process.


The finished work is pleasingly (to my taste anyway) minimalist. The crunchy impasto of the plaster making a rhythm on the bare canvas.The tonality, if not the structure, put me in mind of Park Seo-Bo whose work was exhibited at the White Cube earlier in the year. Of course there is an enormous contrast in mood. Whereas Park’s work is contemplative Capper makes a restless crust of forms across the canvas that you want to drag your hand across and feel as much as see.

And then there’s the machines. The plaster is applied to a glue-prepared canvas from blocks which are attacked by the artist with a kind of menacing home-made chainsaw. Which action is a spectacle worth seeing (and hearing) if you get the chance. Its controlled chaos put me in mind of Jackson Pollock’s method, albeit with a radically different outcome.


After which you’re left with not just the work on the canvas but also the sculptural forms of the blocks, their carved up innards spilled over the walls and the floor. As you can see this process attracted not only the cognoscenti but also a few curious onlookers from the pub across the road.

So in anticipation of the RA’s colossal Abstract Expressionism down the road I’d recommend getting along to Vigo to see work which seems to have direct inspiration from some of those artists in its energy and its stripped down rawness.

Art Exhibitions London

f1insburyparker View All →

Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).

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