Jim Lambie: the Flowers of Romance

Jim Lambie was born 1964 in Glasgow, Scotland and graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1994. Lambie lives and works in Glasgow, as a visual artist, musician and DJ.

Lambie specialises in colourful sculptural installations made from everyday modern materials including pop culture objects, such as posters and album covers, and household accessories. Lambie’s practice evolves from a response to the psychology of space and colour, utilising the two in a way that is deeply rooted in colour theory, and draws parallels with the concept of synesthesia, where the senses are combined such as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a colour. Working on a scale and intensity that takes on the gallery space, Lambie is also deeply influenced by movements in art and the history of place. His work specifically relates to the industrial past of his hometown of Glasgow, and utopian liberation movements, such as William Morris’ Socialism and the Arts and Crafts movement.

Lambie sources his material directly from the modern world. Referencing popular culture and drawing his subject matter from music and iconic figures, he makes use of everyday objects; record sleeves, ornaments, clothing and furniture, both found and fabricated. He transforms these elements into new sculptural forms, re-energising them and giving them an alternative function.

His installations are usually site-specific, using existing architecture as inspiration. For his trademark floor installations he uses brightly coloured vinyl tape arranged into patterns around the floor of the gallery space, tracing the shape of the room to reveal the idiosyncrasies of its architecture. The vinyl tape, an everyday material applied in continuous lines, has a capacity to transform the dynamics of space, changing a quiet gallery space into an energetic and emotional space of sensory pleasure. Lambie creates a rhythm that vibrates and pulsates, and even confuses and disorients the spectator. According to Lambie: “For me something like Zobop, the floor piece, it is creating so many edges that they all dissolve. Is the room expanding or contracting? … Covering an object somehow evaporates the hard edge off the thing, and pulls you towards more of a dreamscape.”

Encapsulating ideologies in art history, and arbitrated by cultural deities, Lambie allows himself to work liberally and outside the constraints of a single medium or dimension. His installations reinvent the space into a dazzling interaction of colours, shapes and forms, challenging the viewer’s perceptions and creating an elaborate, otherworldly experience.

His solo exhibitions include Shaved Ice, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow, UK (2012), Spiritualized, Anton Kern Gallery, New York, USA (2011), Directions: Jim Lambie Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2006); Anton Kern Gallery, New York (2006); ByrdsThe Modern Institute, Glasgow (2005); Shoulder Pad, Sadie Coles HQ, London (2005); Male StripperMuseum of Modern Art, Oxford (2003); AndSalon UnisexSadie Coles HQ, London, and The Breeder, Athens (2002). Group exhibitions include Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007);In the darkest hour there may be light, Serpentine Gallery, London (2006); Post Notes,Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2005); Lyon Biennial of Contemporary ArtFrance (2005);Turner PrizeTate Britain, London (2005); 54th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2004, catalogue); and Drunk vs. Stoned Gavin Brown’s Enterprise at Passerby, New York (2004).

His work has been collected by the National Galleries of Scotland, Charles Riva Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Zabludowicz Collection, British Council and Tate. In 2005 Lambie was shortlisted for the 2005 Turner Prize with an installation called Mental Oyster.