The Golden Calf, 2008
The Golden Calf, 2008, with base
Before I send you, my readers, off to the New York Studio School to see the work of the artist Nick Miller and tell you why you should go, some words about the Damien Hirst’s two-day, 220 plus work auction at London’s Sotheby’s. I saw the show. Damien took over the whole of the New Bond Street Sotheby’s which necessitated strategically placed guards to steer viewers through the labyrinth of rooms. Heaven forbid you miss anything. All was not without merit. I was particularly taken with “The Kingdom”, a single elegant tiger shark in a glass and steel tank of formaldehyde as well as the “The Golden Calf” with its religious overtones. This, a huge twenty-ton work, was missing its marble base which was deemed to heavy even for the reinforced floor of Sotheby’s. I also saw beauty in several colorful relatively small spin and skull paintings invoking Tantric prayer hangings, sort of contemporary mandalas. The sale marks a seismic shift in the commerce of art. Now, artists are free to flaunt and sell their latest work themselves through the auction houses. They may skip the conventional gallery venues and cut out dealers who traditionally nurture not only the artists but also their collectors. I was reminded of the 1973 New York Robert C. and Ethel Scull auction at the then Park Avenue Sotheby Parke Bernet when some 50 Scull owned contemporary American sculptures and paintings sold amid heavy marketing and press. So extraordinary was the sale considered with its attendant hoopla, a documentary film was made of the event. If it is any consolation for those of you who are not Damien Hirst fans, The Wall Street Journal reported that half the lots sold below their estimate and the estimates reflected about a 30% discount from retail prices. Poor Damien.
Now dear reader, off to the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture to see a small show of eight really good paintings and two excellent paper works of rich Chinese and Indian ink. Nick Miller’s “Trunkscapes” are landscape works created from the artist’s mobile truck studio. Through the truck’s rear door, Miller views and captures the Irish countryside of the comely County Sligo. His influences include the intense emotional artists of the School of London, Cezanne, John Constable, the Impressionists, Giacometti and possibly the abstracted, densely built up landscape canvases of Anselm Kiefer. Miller looks hard. His paintings and drawings are about perception, about the control of vision, about the visual grasp of a fluctuating reality, about capturing the subject’s authenticity. His work is a visual and tactile experience. You may get lost in the build up of pigments or ink lines as reality recedes from your mind and then you are pulled back into the view when a tree suddenly appears through a thicket of black and white. Or, while concentrating on layers of paint and colors you are reminded of the countryside by the infringement of a telephone wire stretched across the picture plane. Don’t forget to spend time with Miller’s beautiful overcast skies. See the depth and variety in the skies of the painting “From Cogan’s shed” and the Chinese and Indian ink work “To Kilronan”. Enjoy all the greens in the painting “Ben Bulben craggs” and the dense layering of paint and the struggling paint strokes seeking to picture the real.
Ben Bulben crags, 2008
The more you look, the more you are rewarded with things to see. This visually fulfilling show will leave you satiated and feeling your time was well spent.
Nick Miller Truckscapes
Paintings From A Mobile Studio
New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture
8 West 8th Street, New York, New York,
Daily 10 to 6
Through October 25, 2008