A new exhibition of Gavin Nolan’s recent paintings depicting versions of historical figures opens at Charlie Smith London 14 April. Combining hyper-realism with abstraction and mark making, his mostly intimate oil paintings reveal the heroic and fragile nature of the subjects and meditate on creativity, language, legacy and obsolescence. Focusing on iconic 20th century figures of note, Nolan’s current work examines his own relationship with the past. His interest in the inception of political, cultural and intellectual movements leads to an examination of their subsequent effects; and the echoes of an individual’s thoughts and actions that have moulded the modern period.
Pictorial content and abstraction vie for supremacy in these paintings where the hyper-real masquerades as fact and the abstract plays the role of the unknown or intangible. Displaying an exceptional facility for handling both tendencies, Nolan asserts via painterly language that historical truth is elusive and information is filtered. Engaging with this slippage, Nolan seeks to remove the depiction of a subject from the reality of the original. The painting as object becomes its own peculiar, temporal fact.
By imagining characteristics and simultaneously projecting himself onto his subjects, Nolan suggests the paintings serve as meditations on the self as well as those depicted. In combination with a restricted palette that hints at nostalgic recollection, and by referencing his own early work, the figures inhabiting this collection might be phantasmal or undead – haunting our present as they fade in and out of time and being.
Born 1977, Education 1999-2002 Post-Graduate Diploma Fine Art Royal Academy Schools, London; 1996-1999 BA (Hons) Fine Art Loughborough University School of Art
Selected Exhibitions: 2015: Black Paintings, CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London; Die English Kommen! – New Painting from London, Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt; 2014: Saatchi Gallery & Channel 4’s New Sensations and THE FUTURE CAN WAIT, B1, Victoria House, London; Cultus Deorum, Saatchi Gallery, London; 2013: Mise en Abyme (Solo), CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London; 2012: The Id, the Ego and the Superego, BRAUBACHfive, Frankfurt; 2011: Polemically Small, Klaipeda Culture Communication Centre, Klaipeda; THE FUTURE CAN WAIT presents: Polemically Small, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance; Attraction of the Opposites, CUCOSA, Rotterdam; 2010: A King’s Gambit Accepted (Solo), CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London; Papyrophilia, CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London; The Reflected Gaze, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance; 2009: Hexen Reflex (Solo), Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles; 2008: The Past is History, Changing Role Gallery, Naples & Rome; New London School, Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles; 2006: Icons, Chungking Projects, Los Angeles; Unnatural Selection (Solo), Sartorial Contemporary Art, London; 2005: Maji Jabii!! Fucking Brilliant!!, Tokyo Wondersite, Tokyo; New London Kicks, Wooster Projects, New York; The Sun Also Rises, Rockwell Gallery, London; 2004: Born, Cry, Eat, Shit, Fuck, Die, Rockwell Gallery, London
Collections: Marc Coucke, Ghent; Jean Pigozzi, Geneva; David Roberts, London; Dr Rainer Schiweck, Munich; The SØR Rusche Collection, Oelde / Berlin; Howard Tullman, Chicago; Private collections in France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom & United States