Garry Nichols “Tasmanian Devil”

His art resides in a continuum of symbolic representation that ranges from the semi-abstract to the abstract mode, retaining recognizable imagery within his plastic pictorial space.

poster for Garry Nichols

Garry Nichols "Tasmanian Devil"

at Yes gallery
in the Bushwick area
This event has ended - (2010-12-16 - 2011-01-13)

In Reviews by Mary Hrbacek 2011-02-02 print

Garry Nichols has honed his epic-scale paintings and related charcoal and pastel drawings to their present level of expressive authority. His art resides in a continuum of symbolic representation that ranges from the semi-abstract to the abstract mode, retaining recognizable imagery within his plastic pictorial space. His oeuvre relates directly to memories of the vegetation, landscape, air and light of his native Tasmania. There’s pleasure and sensateness here, a universe of dream as well as the seductive but prickly arena of nature in beautiful but stinging survival mode.
Garry Nichols  ''Rescue Up The Creek'' (2007)  oil on linen  82  x 120 in.

In his new soaring epic paintings, Nichols postulates a world of playful scale and luxuriant dream space, filled with rich looking foliage, tiny sailing vessels and enormous erotic fruits. An ocean reflects the scarlet of a setting sun hidden by giant variegated intertwining leaves. The crimson sea seems caressed by a breeze whispering through the surface, propelling sailing ships like bugs on the water. The rich colors elicit a gently nurturing feeling of quietly ecstatic revelry. Shells, coral, and a “ship in a bottle” bring long-past child’s holidays to mind. Other works evoke a dreamtime feeling of a hot desert space where maze-like shapes seem to have an animated visual dialogue with various echoing and reverberating surrounding forms. Lines like energy waves sub-divide the shimmering atmospheric surface area.
Garry Nichols ''Dinner Party'' (2010) oil on canvas 48 x 48 in.

Another painting, like a summer day in the outback, brings an in-your-face walkabout discovery of strange insects, organic forms, fossils and little spiky creatures crawling through vertical parallel tunnels, while a twisting pathway punctuates layers of vertical leaf-like forms. The specificity inside the shapes makes each passage a totally absorbing fantasy joyride in itself. In a different mood, dark ships reminiscent of musical instruments move over a turbulent surface while air or water flows through them. A painting of gray-black heads, squeezed together in a claustrophobic space, hints at a state of their discomfort or punishment that invokes an impending cruel fate for its cargo. Nichols’ ancestor Sarah Nichols was taken to Tasmania under such conditions. Early in the nineteenth century, freed convict Daniel Herbert carved similar Celtic-like inspired heads on Ross Bridge in Tasmania. The bridge has become an important landmark, even a site of inspiration, to the displaced people, Nichols’ family among them, who found their way to a new life in an unfamiliar territory. Nichols finds his artistic voice from the exploration of meaningful relics, both natural and historical, that populate his Tasmanian home environment.

Some of this imagery is forbidding: plants reaching to sting, mazes inside shapes with horizontal hot waves. But the overall joyful effect of activity and wonder prevails. His exuberance cannot be contained; images migrate to wooden furniture, a sculpture stand, and to a series of folk art weather vanes that he designed. Nichols’s playful revelry of fantasy in action evokes Henri Rousseau. The luxuriant foliage and erotic natural imagery nurtures the ecstatic aspect of euphoric soaring sensation. The paintings speak of meditative impressions and personal memories captured, to be recombined in the light of the artist’s active contemporary experience.

Mary Hrbacek

Mary Hrbacek. Mary Hrbacek has been writing about art in New York City since the late nineties. She has had more than one hundred reviews published in print in The New York Art World, and has written for NY Arts magazine. Her Commentary spans a broad spectrum of art, from the contemporary cutting-edge to the Old Masters. She has covered exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Armory Show, the Affordable Art Fair, and two consecutive Venice Biennials. After a trip in 2002 to China, Hrbacek wrote a special essay report on the cities of Beijing, Chongching and on art in Shanghai. Hrbacek is an artist who maintains a studio in Harlem. Website » See other writings

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