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.
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.
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.
Painting (artmaking) is the manipulation of energy - physical, intellectual, beautiful, etc.
My work deals with the following;
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.
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
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.
|I N F L U E N C E S
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.
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.
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
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
a disorderly result. When I have found a rhythm for the glass shapes to
with the paint I consider the work good. This decision to consider a
good is an acceptance of its beauty, if not its sublimity, for in the
if it is not beautiful it is not art. The viewer may or may not
the sublime but he or she will see beauty.
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
a visual experience that will foster a viewers's reflection upon
and metaphysical ideas. Themes that were previously reserved for
and sacred art. I endeavor for my work to do this while remaining
and multi-leveled in meaning.
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.
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.