Saturday, May 03, 2008

Thomas Nozkowski at Pace

Recent Work - April 4, 2008 - May 3, 2008

Awhile back I stumbled upon a small group of Thomas Nozkowski's paintings on paper and was impressed by their inventiveness and visual variety. His current exhibition of paintings on canvas and paper at Pace continues the investigation I saw in the earlier works.

Nozkowski's paintings are abstractions in the classical meaning of the word. They appear to have come into being through a process of idiosyncratic observation. The key word is 'observation,' Nozkowski pays attention to how things appear in the world, not just their raw appearance or linguistic identity but how the bits and pieces, the visual clues, give shape to form and imbue it with identity, hence meaning.

Thomas Nozkowski
Untitled (8-108), 2008
oil on linen on panel
22" x 28" (55.9 cm x 71.1 cm)
How something looks, how a painting appears, is a result of a number of visual clues which the viewer attempts to identify as an understandable image. An understandable image can mimic the appearance of something in the outside world or be totally self contained. Thomas Nozkowski's paintings do both, they elicit associations within the real world of objects at a symbolic level. They also reveal the internal logic of their own making.

Thomas Nozkowski
Untitled (8-93), 2007
oil on linen on panel
22" x 28" (55.9 cm x 71.1 cm)
In the Untitled work above, there is a loopy brownish-red line which anchors the painting. This simple form, or trajectory, creates the picture, other pictorial elements are attached to it, contained by it, or generated by it through repetition or mirroring. It controls the space, as inside or outside, figure or ground, or just as a mark on the surface. The little geometric bits and pieces, can allude to decoration on a surface, creating a fleeting focus or identity as 'something,' the edge of a piece of crockery or plate, or not, depending on the viewer.

Thomas Nozkowski
Untitled (8-103), 2008
oil on linen on panel
22" x 28" (55.9 cm x 71.1 cm)
One of the qualities that impressed ma about Nozkowski's paintings is the broad vocabulary of pictorial methods he employs. As a group, his paintings have an identity but this identity is generated by a personal vision and not the result of a pictorial strategy or program. Within the body of work exhibited there is considerable variation form one painting to another in how they are executed, stylistic decisions serve to enforce and enhance the paintings content rather than just serve to establish a brand identity.

Thomas Nozkowski
Untitled (P38), 2008
oil on paper
22" x 30" (55.9 cm x 76.2 cm)
Looka like a cow to me, maybe a quilt...

I saw Tom's show a couple of weeks ago with a friend who is also a painter, we both thought it was the most memorable exhibition we had seen that day.

More images: Thomas Nozkowski - Pace


Hans said...

Interesting, but quite fashionable these kind of works nowadays, which are pretty too much

compatible adj. austauschbar i
i convertible adj. austauschbar i
i exchangeable adj. austauschbar i
i interchangeable adj. austauschbar i
i removable adj. austauschbar i
i replaceable adj. austauschbar i
i interchangeable with sth.

Sorry, I do not know the best word, for "austauschbar"

Best regards, Hans

George said...


I know Thomas Nozkowski a little bit, I visited his studio once, close to twenty years ago. His work has progressed honestly in this vein for a long time. If the work appears fashionable, it is probably because he has quietly been influencing other artists for a long time.

His paintings are very inventive, he rarely relies on a single motif or stylistic approach, rather he chooses from a vocabulary of elements to make each painting. The paintings feel genuinely personal and intimate and possess a wit which feels fresh in today’s over intellectualized commodity market.

He is one of a few abstract painters who I find has remained interesting over a span of time.

Hans said...

Hi George,

I also appreciate his works. I did not want to say that I think his works are fashionable, but rather that some artists understood a while ago, that unbalance and "non-composition" is also a balance and forms out as composition and these discoveries were made by other artists too or influenced others.

It produces world wide a huge amount of hyper-individualistic works, but I have a sort of feeling that it goes too smooth and easy.

Sorry, I am not very clear myself, what point I want to criticize.

George said...


The day I visited his exhibition, I must have seen 20 or 30 other shows in other galleries. At the end of the day, when all was said and done, his exhibition was the one which I remembered so I wrote a bit about it.

I think in some ways we may have the same reaction to his work.I see his works as occupying a known genera of abstract painting, while humorous or quirky, they are more or less known quantity. They don't give me the sense of surprise I find with someone like Miro for example. None the less they are masterfully executed and in spite of whatever picky reservations I may have, they are better than anything comparable I've seen recently.

Michel said...

i personally think that his work is not really crappy but not far from it... sorry