Jason Nickel  





 




    My work is an exploration of the subjects usually associated with religion/spirituality:  love, death, faith, transformation, cosmology. There are two ways to approach an exploration of the spiritual in art- the alchemical and the kenotic.
    The alchemical way is the manipulation of symbols, materials, ideas, etc. with the intent to produce meaning. The kenotic way is the self-emptying, self-effacing method of mushin-no intention.
    Through the explorations of my work, I have discovered that the best process is to walk a line between both ways. Since there is no given spiritual reality, both ways are equally valid.

Either everything is sacred/spiritual... or nothing is.

This creates a subtle tension between nihilism and transcendence and encourages emphasis on the creative process as shamanism.

    My work takes many forms and I experiment with materials in order to test my ideas, I also seek to avoid the mannerism of skill that is a result of mastery over material. I am very much a painter and very much a formalist, I am also very much a worker, carpenter and maker. Every work I create has the same essence of energy behind it, formalism is a avenue of sacredness or spirituality.
    Alchemy deals with the the manipulation of energy - physical, intellectual, beautiful, etc. I work with gesture, material and surface in a manner that is sensual, romantic, without irony and hopefully with bravado but without bravura. Paint is energy, materials are energy, the formal elements of painting are energy. All the universe is filled with energy, this is uncreated energy that has always existed and always will. The process of painting is active meditation, and the work produced is its visual evidence.

2010


Painting (artmaking) is the manipulation of energy - physical, intellectual, beautiful, etc.

                    My work deals with the following;
                                energy containment
                                energy control
                                energy dispersal
   
Paint is energy, materials are energy, the formal elements of painting are energy. All the universe if filled with energy, this is uncreated energy that has always existed and always will.

I pull resources from religious beliefs, mythology, martial arts and observations of the universe and I have come to understand that all of these idioms can be distilled into the same visual energy through art. My work takes many forms; the tondo, broken glass, collage scrolls, and I have recently begun using wine as medium. I experiment with these formats and materials in order to test my ideas about energy and and its visual forms. Every work I create has the same formal essence behind it.

I work with gesture and rich surfaces in a manner that is sensual, romantic and without irony. I have begun assembling a visual code of this which can be can be viewed at jasonnickel.net/symbology.

2009

I N F L U E N C E S

religion
antique cosmology
Genesis 1
William Blake
fresco/plaster
Michelangelo
Chinese painting
Scrolls
comic books
sexual intercourse
temple architecture/domes
Greek Myth
Mythology
The Gospel of John
Kounellis
Tapies
Mattisse
Picasso
Mondrian
whiskey
Malevich/Supremetism
Giotto
icons
iconoclasm
Alberti
alchemy
Beuys
Kieffer
Baselitz
Lucio Fontana
DeKooning
Motherwell
Newman
Gottlieb
Kline
dada
The Silence of Marcel Duchamp is Overrated
house framing
Miles Davis(1970's)
jazz
cigars
Elric
Global Fusion beats


Mircea Eliade
Kierkegard
Lacan
Frank Herbert
SciFi
epic poets(Homer, Milton)
Alejandro Jodorowsky(El Topo)
Achilles
kendo
karate
martial arts
 Musashi Miyamoto
zen
existientalism
seppuku
Samurai Champloo
Kronos Quartet
U2
DJ Cheb i Sabba
Bill Laswell
The shooting scene from Bladerunner
alchoholism







Symbology
A visual guide

By Jason Nickel
    For me, the process of painting is active meditation, and the work produced is the visual evidence of this. My goal is to work beyond symbolic representation and create a visual experience that fosters a viewer's personal reflection upon spiritual and metaphysical ideas; themes once reserved for religious and sacred art.... love, death, faith, transformation, cosmology. How does an individual experience the incomprehensible passing of cosmic time?  Do we have a soul that exists inside of us? On other planes of existence? My work asks these questions while remaining open-ended and multi-leveled in meaning - pregnant with possibility.

   
My work has become attached to the tondo format. The circle is the most efficient and natural shape (all planets are spheres), it provides a holistic format to work upon and the paintings are less rigid, less of a window and more of an intimate and votive object.

   
I have also became interested in broken glass, for its chaotic and random shape, and for its violence. It resembles negative space and when collaged and layered,  it creates a strata of spatial planes (planes of existence?), reflecting light and the surrounding world.

   
I work with gesture and rich surfaces of oil paint, expressionist and fluid, my paintings are sensual, romantic and without irony. My artistic temperament is expressionism coupled with a strong thread of formalism, this causes my paintings to appear deeply felt and emotive while simultaneously austere and spartan. A balancing act of kitsch and minimalism, the sacred and the secular.

Jason Nickel
2007



I am more interested in the sublime than I am beauty. As an artist I am dealing with the search for a new language to describe spiritual or metaphysical ideas. I utilize abstraction and the visual mechanics of painting and I consider the finished work as evidence of this search.

I have come to believe that the sublime cannot be necessarily depicted in the traditional sense of art, it must be experienced by the the artist or viewer. If the finished work is the evidence of search for the sublime, then this search must be a beautiful act. Beauty is what is left when all extraneous elements are removed from a work and all that is left is what I found essential to experience the sublime.

In my recent work I have utilized broken glass on the painted surface, the glass is random and chaotic and difficult to place in a painting without producing a disorderly result. When I have found a rhythm for the glass shapes to play with the paint I consider the work good. This decision to consider a work good is an acceptance of its beauty, if not its sublimity, for in the end, if it is not beautiful it is not art. The viewer may or may not experience the sublime but he or she will see beauty.

Jason Nickel  2006
Written in response to the 2006 Everson Biennial, Beauty is in the Eye of the Artist



The contemplation of cosmology, creation myths, and the beginning and end of the universe is what drives my work. I intend to create a visual experience that will foster a viewers's reflection upon spiritual and metaphysical ideas. Themes that were previously reserved for religious and sacred art. I endeavor for my work to do this while remaining open-ended and multi-leveled in meaning.

Painting's  attributes of color, special logic, form in space, and painterly gesture are a poetic means of alchemical exploration into ideas, wherein; painting = physics = metaphysics = religion = God.

My artistic goal is to represent the scope and nature of the cosmos painted on temple walls and ceilings in a post-modern context and to move that subject from pictorial depiction to visceral experience, encouraging the viewer to reflect inward and contemplate the cosmos that is in their own mind.

Jason Nickel
2005