James Capper was born in 1987 in London and studied at the Royal College of Art, London. He currently lives and works in London.
His work was the subject of a solo exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2013. He has also exhibited at: Art Basel Hong Kong (2014); V&A, London (2013); Saatchi Gallery, London (2013); The Armory Show, New York (2013); Tim Sherward Projects, London (2012);Hannah Barry Gallery (2012); Fundaziun Not Vital, Ardez (2012); Bold Tendencies 5, London (2011); Modern Art Oxford (2011); Cass Sculpture Foundation (2009) amongst others. In 2009 he won the Royal Academy’s Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture and in 2011 was the recipient of the Royal Society of British Sculptors Bursary Award. Capper's drawings and models were the subject of an exhibition entitled Hydraulic Sculptures in the Upper Gallery of the Cass Sculpture Foundation in 2015.
Interested in the aesthetics of mechanical power and hydraulics, James Capper's works respond to their environments by rolling, digging, climbing, drawing, lifting and cutting. To do so, they are often equipped with unique ‘marking’ components that are described by the artist as ‘tread pads’ or ‘teeth’. His works are separated into divisions, which he describes as constantly expanding ‘family trees’– from Earth Marking to Off Shore; from Carving Tools to the new Material Handling work. Capper is influenced by the Land art movement that originated in 1970s America, in which figures such as Robert Smithson made frequent use of machinery to facilitate their use of the natural landscape to create sculptures. Capper’s work similarly ascribes to the abandonment of formalism, rules and traditional art materials, as espoused by the Land artists, elevating his industrial materials and enabling their transcendence from solely functional objects. He also derives inspiration from the early developments of engineering, particularly the work of the prolific inventor Robert Gilmour Le Tourneau, who developed a number of experimental problem-solving, earth-moving machines, some of which were used during World War II. Capper’s machines have specific, functional uses, but the tangible impact they have on the environment also engages with essential questions concerning the relationship between the natural world, art and technology.