James Cummins

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'Speak to me in ancient tongues.'

It is a rare thing indeed to find works of art that are labours of love and toil on a monumental scale which speak to you in ancient tongues.

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James Cummins paints large abstract works that deliberately draw parallels to historical texts such as the ancient Sanskrit Rig Veda (Song of Knowledge) and the cuneiform tablets of Babylon.

With these he suggests a different frame of reference, with forms, shapes and impressions of vanished worlds using imagination and erudition. At an iconographic level Cummins strives to develop a new form of expression for a modern age by drawing upon the language of the ideas, signs and symbols of the ancients.

He uses a variety of techniques to apply these symbols of the world’s first written language which appeared 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) with its characteristic and beautiful wedge shaped signs (Cuneiform is Latin for wedge shape). This was used to create a highly sophisticated literature as well as a vehicle for the preservation and distribution of knowledge.

His brooding and mesmeric abstracts with their intensely worked, finely crafted sculptural surfaces reveal the eternal mysteries of nature and mankind through the ages. Their textural surfaces invite closer and lengthy contemplation, an experience at the same time ancient and completely modern are brought together in his particular idiom.

These images work on many levels simultaneously. We may look at these as shapes, lines, textures and tones as examples of pre-iconography that are interesting and valid in their own way. In so doing we connect with the paintings’ symbolism with wider cultural conventions and meanings potentially relevant to our own (modern) experience and perceptions of the world. Their contemplative power and grandeur can be related to on a timeless, sublime level that transcends the ages and creates a language of its own.

Restrained in the use of colour yet deeply evocative and mysterious, Cummins’ work gives the feeling of containing ancient truths, representing the embodiment of long and arduous meditation. He likes to paint large canvases because they bring the viewer into them, creating a sense of intimacy through our individual relationship with the painting. Through their transfixing quality, they are a timeless response to the universal mysteries of the human condition.

Force of Balance - James CumminsTotem - James CumminsTotem (detail 1) - James CumminsTotem (detail 2) - James CumminsThe Legend Of Copper - James CumminsThe Legend Of Copper (detail 1) - James Cummins
Force of BalanceTotemTotem (detail 1)Totem (detail 2)The Legend Of CopperThe Legend Of Copper (detail 1)
The Legend Of Copper (detail 2) - James CumminsBadrinath - James CumminsFaded Memories - James CumminsKing - James CumminsLast Tree - James CumminsScorched Earth - James Cummins
The Legend Of Copper (detail 2)BadrinathFaded MemoriesKingLast TreeScorched Earth
Rig Veda - James CumminsGilgamesh - James CumminsFlow - James CumminsFlow (detail 1) - James CumminsFlow (detail 2) - James CumminsFormulae - James Cummins
Rig VedaGilgameshFlowFlow (detail 1)Flow (detail 2)Formulae
Dark Material - James CumminsPassage - James CumminsLegend - James CumminsEdifice - James CumminsWeep Weep Children Of Babylon - James CumminsOstraka - James Cummins
Dark MaterialPassageLegendEdificeWeep Weep Children Of BabylonOstraka
Ostraka (detail 1) - James CumminsOstraka (detail 2) - James CumminsBlack Flag - James CumminsHorizon - James CumminsDark Matter - James CumminsBorderline - James Cummins
Ostraka (detail 1)Ostraka (detail 2)Black FlagHorizonDark MatterBorderline
Earthware - James CumminsExcavation - James CumminsBlack Proton - James CumminsLanguage - James CumminsRough Surface - James CumminsMigration - James Cummins
EarthwareExcavationBlack ProtonLanguageRough SurfaceMigration
Inscription II - James CumminsOstrake - James CumminsLifeline - James CumminsProper Piece - James CumminsScripture - James CumminsStill - James Cummins
Inscription IIOstrakeLifelineProper PieceScriptureStill
About Drawing - James CumminsEarly One Morning - James CumminsFoundations - James CumminsFragmenta I - James CumminsHopeful Horizon - James CumminsBlack Block - James Cummins
About DrawingEarly One MorningFoundationsFragmenta IHopeful HorizonBlack Block
Stone Script - James CumminsLoom - James CumminsSigns - James CumminsDoor - James CumminsGeradeaus - James CumminsImplant And Gecco - James Cummins
Stone ScriptLoomSignsDoorGeradeausImplant And Gecco
Law Of Three - James CumminsRed Flow - James CumminsKronos - James CumminsLines In Grey - James CumminsMap - James CumminsPrinzip Des Materiums - James Cummins
Law Of ThreeRed FlowKronosLines In GreyMapPrinzip Des Materiums
Presand Egypt - James CumminsSanscrit Wall - James CumminsScript - James CumminsScriptum - James CumminsScriptum (detail) - James CumminsTangent - James Cummins
Presand EgyptSanscrit WallScriptScriptumScriptum (detail)Tangent
Textured Triad - James CumminsHieroglyphs - James CumminsDecree - James CumminsCodex II - James CumminsLegend Of Bronze - James CumminsCommandments - James Cummins
Textured TriadHieroglyphsDecreeCodex IILegend Of BronzeCommandments
Carbon Footprint - James CumminsAscension - James CumminsCave - James CumminsHolding - James CumminsHorizontal Matter - James CumminsArtartart - James Cummins
Carbon FootprintAscensionCaveHoldingHorizontal MatterArtartart
Red Schism - James CumminsRed Script - James CumminsSprache - James CumminsWashing Day - James CumminsArcadian Tablets - James CumminsThe Full Measure - James Cummins
Red SchismRed ScriptSpracheWashing DayArcadian TabletsThe Full Measure
Asurpanipal - James CumminsAttachments - James CumminsBardo Door - James CumminsBridge II - James CumminsDocument - James CumminsMessage - James Cummins
AsurpanipalAttachmentsBardo DoorBridge IIDocumentMessage
Oase - James CumminsCarambolage - James CumminsOchre Islands - James CumminsCrossroads - James CumminsSpace Expansion - James CumminsMaze - James Cummins
OaseCarambolageOchre IslandsCrossroadsSpace ExpansionMaze
Black Sack - James CumminsBridge - James CumminsBroken Veil - James CumminsChaff - James CumminsConservation 5 - James CumminsDream Objects - James Cummins
Black SackBridgeBroken VeilChaffConservation 5Dream Objects
Element - James CumminsForbidden Bread - James CumminsFulcrum - James CumminsGrey Element - James CumminsGreystone - James CumminsLines Of Communication II - James Cummins
ElementForbidden BreadFulcrumGrey ElementGreystoneLines Of Communication II
Rag - James CumminsRain Forest - James CumminsSculpted Black - James CumminsThe Drama of Attraction & Repulsion - James CumminsCuneiform - James CumminsBetween The Lines - James Cummins
RagRain ForestSculpted BlackThe Drama of Attraction & RepulsionCuneiformBetween The Lines
Doorway - James Cummins