Collages: Selected Works
brings together 110 previously un-exhibited John Nixon collages produced over the last 30 years. Collages has come together in a timely manner alongside John Nixon: Abstraction
, a 30 year survey of his paintings drawn from the Chartwell Collection, a separate self-contained installation within the Auckland Art Gallery’s broader exhibition Colour is An Abstraction
at Two Rooms proposes a parallel exhibition, one which establishes a dialogue with and counterpoint to Nixon’s Auckland Art Gallery painting survey. This exhibition brings together a large collection of collages made over an extended period, which he asserts, “present an even more open and experimental vocabulary than the paintings.” Nixon’s comment prompts a reconsideration of the roles collage plays in his practice, particularly in relation to painting. Further, it encourages reflection on the unique medium of collage and its capacity to remain open and experimental.
Nixon’s practice mines the visual language and potential meanings of minimal geometric abstraction, which also emerged in the early Twentieth Century around the same time as collage. Nixon’s signature orange features heavily here, along with accents of silver, as a kind of index to his paintings. Primary forms also recur: circles, triangles and crosses, to regions of vivid monochrome, both featured in Nixon’s oeuvre and in Modernism’s ‘greatest hits.’
Nixon’s collages feature a diverse range of found paper-based materials with scarcely a lick of paint: Swiss chocolate wrappers, stamps, newspaper clippings, Nippon Paint palettes, coloured paper and card, sections of his own photographs, a return ferry ticket to Rangitoto Island, an invitation to his exhibition in Tubingen, Germany. They intuitively document and recycle traces of the artist’s travel through domestic, local and international spaces, from the kitchen to the other side of the world. Suitably, one is constructed on top of an envelope.
His collages reflect on the utopian promises of early Modernist abstraction, and find a corollary in those made by the advertising of consumer goods. For instance, he finds a congruence in red and green monochrome circles and a photograph of beans and again, he finds the likeness of a painting in the design of a paracetamol box, a pleasing geometry in the black and white barcode laid over Panadol green. He is able to discover Modernism even in the medicine cabinet.
Press release courtesy Two Rooms.