The current exhibit in SOIL’s backspace is proof that Nicholas Nyland digs variety. “I wanted to show a range of works in different media,” says the artist, “that are connected by ideas about painting.”
Nyland – who received a BFA then a MFA in Painting at the University of Washington and the University of Pennsylvania respectively and who currently resides in Lakewood, Washington – works in oil, enamel, watercolor and acrylic on paper mache, paper and metals amongst other things.
This show, entitled The Problem of Universals, includes Garland, a wall sculpture made from thick pieces of torn paper painted wistfully in stripes, dashes and cross-hatchings that cascade down lengths of heavy cord and are attached at intervals with grommets. It is Frank Stella-lite only smarter because it didn’t take as long. Garland hangs like it is in its own world. It seems to say, “Look if you wish, but I’m fine either way.”
Nyland’s pieces often feel like youngsters wearing ear buds whose music could actually be creating them as they go.
A paper mache piece that hangs from an aluminum chain dented and faceted as can be resembles Nyland’s ceramics. Since his paper mache works resemble ceramics and his ceramics resemble paper mache – which came first?
“What if it was a three dimensional thing but still had a surface,” says the artist; “I like the idea of an abstract painting that is also like a thing.”
Nyland’s ceramics are a mystery. With their lollypop palette they resemble something a pre-school aged child would fashion and have fired by a teacher. Crazily poked and pinched, they are abstract blobs that Nyland somehow makes into elegant, deep, meaningful and profound objects.
When asked if he made ceramics as a child he replies, “I didn’t really do ceramics in grade school. The only exposure I’ve had to something like that was a hand building and a throwing class at the UW.”
His ceramic pieces in past exhibits have been tabletop or pedestal works. At SOIL one hangs from the wall, a box shaped quasi painting hung askew: “I’m putting it back on the wall I guess,” says Nyland.
Keep your eye on this artist. His work will be included in Kirkland Art Center’s juried show Clay? III this spring. Also: as this went to press it was announced that Nyland got into Bellevue Arts Museum’s Biennial 2010: Clay Throwdown! scheduled for August 28, 2010 – January 16, 2011.
Nicholas Nyland: The Problem of Universals, January 6–30, 2010, SOIL, 112 3rd Ave. S, Seattle. Hours: Wed-Sat 12-5pm. 206 264 8061. [email protected]