Utstilling: Nick Fox

lørdag 16. april 2011 kl. 14.00

16. april - 5. juni 2011

Nick Fox
Phantasieblume Nachtlied
maleri, teikning, glasobjekt, video


Phantasieblume Nachtlied  består av måleri, teikning, glasobjekt og video. Dette er Nick Fox si første separatutstilling i Noreg.

Fox er oppteken av korleis me i dag kommuniserer det me lengter etter. Han tek opp arven etter floriografi (”Blomsterspråket” som gav hemmelege beskjedar mellom kjærastar) og ny-tolkar dette gløymde språket. Måleria til Fox er laga ved å forsiktig bearbeida tynne lag av akrylmåling. Målinga, som har tørka på ei glasflate, blir klippa i intrikate mønster og danner dekorative objekt som minner om gamle kniplingsarbeid. Ved nærare ettersyn ser ein at motiva på arbeida har element av nakne figurar, erotikk og motiv frå botanikken. Det er narrative arbeid som tek opp tema kring begjær og kjærleik. På andre arbeid ser Fox på blikket. I over eitt år har han tråkla gjennom pornografiske bilder, Viktoriansk blomstermåleri og vanitasmåleri frå  romantikken og neoklassisismen og har sett på korleis blikket blir nytta anten som aktiv deltakar eller som passivt vitne. 

Oppe i andre etasje finn me det meir personleg relaterte arbeidet Nightsong. Dette er fleire verk som er inspirert av måneskinnet og myter knytta til månen. Arbeidet består av fleire videoarbeid som er teke opp ved Obrestad hamn i 2010 og på Lindisfarne i 2009 og som her blir vist for første gong. På løa finn me og 29 glassflater som har avbildingar av kunstnaren sine kroppsdeler. 

Nick Fox vart fødd i Sør-Afrika i 1972 og bur no i Newcastle upon Tyne og London. Han er utdanna ved Moores University, Liverpool (1992-95) og Royal Academy, London (1998-2001). Den første versjonen av  ‘Phantasieblume’ vert vist på Centre for Recent Drawing, London i 2009 og den andre på Vane, Newcastle i 2010. I fjor vant han John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize 2010.

Utstillinga blir opna av kunstnar Elizabeth Croft. 



‘Phantasieblume Nachtlied’ is a two-site exhibition of paintings, drawings, glass objects and video by Uk based artist, Nick Fox. The exhibition reveals Fox’s aesthetic exploration of material and image, through which a nostalgic desire for a Wilde-like encoding of oppressed sexuality unfolds and is made potent. Downstairs features existing and new work from his Phantasieblume project, while upstairs, Fox reveals an altogether more personal vision in a grouping of new and unseen work titled Nightsong, inspired by moonlight.

Phantasieblume Nachtlied is Fox’s first solo exhibition in Norway, touring from Vane, Newcastle (2010) and the Centre for Recent Drawing, London (2009), with the addition of new, previously unseen glass works produced during his recent residency at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland. Fox will also be showing new video works made specifically for the space at Ha Gamle Presegart.

Fox’s paintings, drawings and objects are informed by romantic idealisation, cultural artefact and social and subcultural codes. Historically, the austere morality codes of Victorian society forced courtship into a clandestine world of signs and symbols. Floriography, a coded form of language developed in which the act of giving and receiving flowers became loaded with secretive messages of longing from one lover to another. In 1884, Kate Greenaway published ‘Language of Flowers’, a common dictionary of codes that subsequently fell into decline. Fox is interested in how we communicate our desires in a contemporary context. Rather than merely resurrecting this forgotten language of the Fin de Siècle, Fox has found his own way of inverting the coded articulation of desire, playfully and subtly expressing a highly personal and symbolic pictorial language of concealment.

The exhibition consists of a series of seductive drawings, mirrored paintings, intricately laboured objects and video created over the past three and a half years. Fox’s painted work is made by carefully crafting layered skins of acrylic paint on glass, the paint is then intricately cut through, creating elaborate, decorative objects that resemble the preciousness of handcrafted lace. Upon closer inspection, their fragile tendrils conceal an intoxicating and erotic charge – delicately observed erotic figurative drawings are interwoven with competing elements of decoration; nude figures and botanical imagery emerge from the sensual surfaces to create tantalising, elusive narratives of desire and courtship.

On the walls downstairs, hang dense painted panels that show Fox’s fascination with the gaze either as active voyeur or as passive witness. Fox works on his mirror-like polished panels of paint for up to eighteen months, a period of time necessitated by the high production values and the multiple layering of imagery culled from pornography, Victorian flower painting, the Romantic, neoclassical and Vanitas painting traditions. There are literary precursors at play, in particular the Decadent writings of Joris-Karl Huysmans and Oscar Wilde giving rise to a keen sense both of the pleasures and the limits of double meanings in the construction of codes. Close to the paintings sits murmuring, a pool of paint that resembles a dark oozing oily stain of water around which sit a collection of sculpted glass objects. Murmuring is simultaneously reflected both in the pool, and his mirrored paintings, literally fusing a symbolic role of botanical imagery to his themes of desire, longing and loss.

In the centre of the gallery sit Fox’s Phantasieblume Cabinets containing a collection of what, at first sight, appear to be intricately crafted vintage lace objects, industrially cut doilies or discarded rags, all tantalisingly held between layers of glass. As it becomes clear that the objects have been carefully cut from paint, the individual works reveal a devotion to labour in their process, prompting discussion about the subtle relationship between art and craft while still existing firmly within the fields of contemporary painting and drawing practice.

Upstairs, the shadowy space contains the collection of work Nightsong, all shown here for the first time. Inspired by moonlight and lunar mythologies, Nightsong is a grouping of video works filmed during 2009 and 2010 (all completed 2011) and Echo, a constellation of 29 glass discs (2011) containing images of the artist’s body, with live sound. Of the video work presented, Obrestad Havn, Hå kommune 2010 (2011) has been made as a direct response to Fox’s recent visit to Hå gamle prestegard in 2010, and in this video installation is paired with his earlier work, The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland  2009 (2011).

This grouping of works marks a clear break from Fox’s floriographic references, indicating a significantly more private process of physical and spiritual analysis, introspection, and evaluation. Nightsong offers unstable meanings and visualisatiuons to the bittersweet intensification of longing that comes as result of rejection and loss.


A publication, entitled ‘Phantasieblume’, jointly published by C4RD and Art Editions North, will accompany this exhibition. With text contributions from Philip Auslander, Stephanie Brown, Paul Stone and Andrew Hewish, Clive Jennings, George Chakravarthi, Grainne Sweeney and Matt Hearn.

An additional PDF catalogue, Phantasieblume Nachtlied, featuring a critical text by Matt Hearn, will also be available through the gallery.

Nick Fox: Biography
Nick Fox was born in Durban, South Africa in 1972 and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne and London. He attended John Moores University, Liverpool (1992-95) and Royal Academy Schools, London (1998-2001). The first version of ‘Phantasieblume’ took place at Centre for Recent Drawing, London in 2009 and the second took place at Vane, Newcastle in 2010. Recent exhibitions include The John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize 2010, ‘MurmurART:an introduction’, MurmurART, London (2010), ‘Hand Joy’, Centre for Recent Drawing, London, (2010), ‘40 Artists 80 Drawings’, The Drawing Gallery, London (2009), ‘00 Nature Part 1’, Contemporary Art Projects, London, ‘Baltic Square’, Arena Gallery, Liverpool Biennial (2008), and ‘Jerwood Contemporary Painters’, Jerwood Space, London (2007).

Nick Fox was a prizewinner of the recent John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize 2010 (UK)

This exhibition has received kind support from Vane gallery, Centre for Recent Drawing, Arts Council England, Newcastle University, and the National Glass Centre, Sunderland.



Phantasieblume Nachtlied 16th April - 5th June 2011 Ha Gamle Prestegard, Norway (nickfoxart.com)




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