Melbourne-based artist Nicholas Ives has a relentless curiosity that, as a painter, often takes him to places even he doesn't recognise. Generally figurative in nature, his works are sometimes absurd, often dark, and usually very witty, with strange beings populating landscapes that are dream-like and ethereal. His fascination for 'other-worldliness' often forces the viewer into focusing on the narrative of the work, stealing our gaze away from the subjects he explores; religion, power, and authority.
As Nicholas explains, 'My works are human-scaled, at times intimate, always explorative and deeply personal. I place heavy importance on the material and surface aspects of the painting process. I often paint very slowly. And time allows the pieces to change and fluctuate, ultimately ending in a surprising rapture at some point in the making, usually when they start to drive their own inherent 'meaning'. And that's the point when I often stop, allowing them to just "be".'
In essence, for all their rich appeal and magically nonsensical narratives, Nicholas's paintings are outstanding examples of an artist reminding us that, for all of life's absurdities, perhaps the act of painting - manipulating pigment and binding agent onto a surface - is one of the most ludicrously enjoyable and playful. (Or as Freud might have put it, allowing the artist to have the ability of turning his fantasies into artistic creations instead of into symptoms.)
These paintings don't have easy 'answers'. And Nicholas might even argue that they may not even begin with particularly pertinent questions. But signature themes are always present - exploring the realms of the absurd and the carnivalesque, flowing across boundaries of portraiture into abstraction, encouraging unexpected outcomes and collisions - encounters of the material surface and the imaginings of unknown painterly worlds.
Nicholas has a major solo show planned for May 2021 at the gallery and will show at Spring1883 in Melbourne, in August 2021.