NEW YORK, NY.- Graham Nickson: Paintings 19722011Paths of the Sun brings together three distinct but related bodies of work. The first, a group of early oils composed with frames hand painted by the artist, most created in the environs of Rome, was begun shortly after Nicksons arrival there as a recipient of the 1972 Rome Prize. It was in Italy that sunrises and sunsets first became major themes in his work, and the small format landand skyscapes he painted, some of which are grouped as diptychs and triptychs, also were the basis of the predella paintings that are components of several of the artists monumental canvases of the period, including Umbra Urbana (197280) and Concordia (197278), both in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In a 2006 interview, Nickson stated: Its the image. Basically thats the thing that keeps us going. And I think this is true of a lot of the people I admire, whether its Titian or Cézanne, Guston or Piero della Francesca. I have a strong belief that theres an image that somehow has the ability to embody a range of experiences, a range of levels of meaning that come together into this one path of thought. Its that image that Im looking for. That image is not an illustration, its not a narrative. That image has to go through a whole process in order to take on this extraordinary responsibility of revealing these elements and levels of understanding. Nickson might well have had in mind the second grouping of works, the Monumental Trees of 19992000, a series of intensely focused watercolors of a single, majestic silver maple on the property of his former Long Island studio. In works which span the full range from direct observation to almost complete abstraction, the artist has created a diaristic chronicle of this tree through all permutations of climate and lighta series in the lineage of Constable, Monet, and Cézanne.
Describing works from the third group comprising this exhibition, a series of paintings on paper and monumental canvases of Tuscan, Umbrian and Australian skyscapes (the latest completed in 2011), Lilly Wei has written that they astonish, in their
translucency and luminosity. They are perhaps Nicksons most abstract paintings, yet remain united to his more figurative work by a sense of architecture, a sense of latent symbolism and a sense of drama, which John Russell identified, as early as 1982, as the unifying features of Nicksons art.
Graham Nickson was born in Knowle Green, U.K., and studied at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts (B.A., 1969) and the Royal College of Art (M.A., 1972), in London. He was based in Rome from 197274, and since 1976 he has resided in New York City. He has worked, traveled and exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad. Mr. Nickson is the Dean of the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture (1988present) where he also serves on the faculty. He is a recipient of the Prix de Rome (197274); the Harkness Fellowship at Yale University (197678); the Howard Foundation Fellowship from Brown University (198081); the Guggenheim Fellowship (1989); and the Ingram Merrill Fellowship (1993). Recent solo exhibitions include Graham Nickson: Private Myths at the Naples Museum of Art, Florida (2007); Graham Nickson: Works from Private Collections at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida (2006); and Meeting and Passing at the Lillehammer Art Museum in Norway (2007).