vestiges of now
opening 25th November
Tomislav Nikolic at Xavier Fiol
The paintings of Tomislav Nikolic situate themselves not at the frothy edge of contemporary cultures bow break, but rather they are part of a deeper, slower current that moves more closely to the sediment of history. There is much about the way that Nikolic chooses to present his paintings – their blend of orthodoxy and intelligent irreverence, their unlikely communion between colour theories and their emphatic assertion that colour itself continues to be the vehicle of emotional charge.
This emotional charge is not delivered courtesy of flamboyant gesture or indeed the rhetoric and weight that abstract expressionism sought painting to shoulder. There is a wilfully sanguine character to most all of Nikolic’s work. Optimism emerges from the existentialism of portraiture. For if Nikolic’s paintings conform to any convention, if they insinuate layers beyond those exquisitely caressed veils of pigment, it is character and within that character is a struggle to define individual nature.
The chromatic thesis that Nikolic touches on in this exhibition is the esoteric theory of the Seven Rays which has informed so many of his exhibitions over the last decade. His reliance on this proposition is not casual, but nor does it direct him forcefully. In the end the paintings assert their own character and requirements and are solved as a matter of aesthetics not theory.
One cannot address Nikolic’s paintings without mentioning the frames and their role in the object. His treatment of the frame has always been idiosyncratic. Where a painter like Howard Hodgkin took his brushstroke over the edge as if it weren’t there at all, Nikolic is acutely aware of the edge. It is at the flanks of the canvas that we can see evidence of the accumulated pigments that collectively form the substantial interior. Applied in finely mixed layers of pigment, the colour accumulates slowly and ultimately achieves the kind of density he seeks leaving the sides to reveal the systemic bleed of colour close to the space between linen and frame.
The last few years have been extraordinary for Tomislav Nikolic. This year he was awarded the 2017 Bvlgari Art Award in acknowledgement of how his practice has blossomed, becoming one of the very finest painters in Australia. Numerous works have been placed in the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales and in the Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand.
Andrew Jensen, November 2017