James Brooks — The Archivist


Drawing, painting, mixed media

James Brooks
The Archivist

Past: June 11 → July 16, 2016

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

Marcel Proust

Last spring, the artist James Brooks and I agreed that he would utilise the gallery for a short residency in Paris to allow him to develop his ideas and realise new work. Obviously I accepted as there is nothing better than to be able to support an artist’s work. Hence, James stayed, explored and worked at the gallery for a few weeks in the summer of 2015. After the successful solo exhibition Facts and Fictions in 2013, I am very happy that James is now showing work that he made in the gallery during this residency.

Lm jb bd 17 medium
Exhibition view Photographie © William Gaye

“What distinguishes the historian from the collector of historical facts is generalisation.”

E. H. Carr

James is a master at transforming one information in order to render it in the form of an abstract artwork or to encourage an alternate reading. This process of abstraction could be confused for being one of obstruction, whereas it is in reality a way to transmit James’ interests. He likes to explore how the current society has evolved from ancient civilisations, but also to use the scientific innovations of then — nowadays perfectly assimilated — such as Greek geometry, Latin alphabet, Arabic decimal system, coins… to create system-based series of drawings, paintings, and audio as well as video works.

Jamesbrook lm bd 14 medium
Exhibition view Photographie © William Gaye

“Study the past if you would define the future.”


The gallery is situated in the ancient Marais area of Paris, one of the few areas that has not been transformed by the Haussmann reforms in the 19th century. Here, the urban structure is still very much as it was when it developed in the 16th century. Furthermore, our street is the rue des Archives, named for the National Archives that were established 1808 in the Hôtel de Soubise (dating back to 1371). As I always ask: “What else is a gallery, if not an archive of artistic activity?”. Thus the address proved to be providential, even more so, as James himself can be considered an archivist.

Lm jb bd 62 medium
Exhibition view Photographie © William Gaye

“History is simply a piece of paper covered with print: the main thing is to make history, not to write it.”

Otto von Bismarck

For this exhibition, James uses his alphabetical and numerical interventions to appropriate the occupations of a geometer, administrator, and cartographer and their historic role of defining land, borders, and territory. The road covered by the gallery has also been one of intensive archival work, documenting each exhibition in order to publish a printed document. James’s first exhibition at the gallery, Folks, was also the first one to get a catalogue. Thus, it is fitting that James agreed to be the last artist to exhibit at the gallery, as it will be closing this summer. I am happy that a particular creative energy by european artists will have been archived by the gallery on the rue des Archives.

Lm jb bd 37 medium
Exhibition view Photographie © William Gaye


James Brooks, born 1974 in England, lives and works in London
Since studying Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art, James Brooks has exhibited widely in the UK and Internationally, including Tate Britain, London and the Staedel Museum, Frankfurt. To date he has had nine solo shows including: Geometra, CANAL Projects, London, 2016, Facts and Fictions, galerie laurent mueller, Paris, 2013, Reporter, Platform A, Middlesbrough, 2013, & The Information Exchange, Domobaal, London, 2012. Amongst his most recent group exhibitions in 2016 are The Missing: Rebuilding the past, Jessica Carlisle Gallery, London, & Contemporary British Drawing, Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, China, DR/OP, Komyoji-Kaikan, Hiroshima, Japan. His work can be found in the collections of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt as well as of David Roberts, Thaddeus Ropac, and Frédéric de Goldschmidt among others.

03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

75, rue des Archives

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 74 04 25


Arts et Métiers
Filles du Calvaire

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

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The artist