I searched online for links for “Art and Transition” and the first link up was Philip Guston’s oil painting on canvas titled TRANSITION. It was featured in his solo exhibition, also titled Transition, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM).
Guston’s painting (above) is oil on canvas, 66 x 80 ½ in (167.6 x 204.5 cm), and dated 1975. It’s in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, bequest of Musa Guston (1992). Notice the pile of shoes, sole side up, and the colors red, white and pink. The SAAM says Guston began to shift his creative practice (Abstract Expressionism) in the late 1960s and his work took an abrupt right turn. He started to create emotionally charged paintings filled with cartoony figure that were never meant to be sweet or cute.
I am writing this post about how my collages and paintings are going through their own transition with abstract shapes now arranging themselves into archetypes of faces or figures, and colors changing from dominant black and white to blue and light yellow green. The image above is my recent collage title Echo Bunny 7 (2021). It’s 16×16 inches, collage with acrylic, found and painted papers on panel, and shows I started to work with blue, red, black & white. Over the past two years my abstract shapes got shorter, softer and rounder. The Echo title comes from the cut-out shapes that reference eyes and mouths. The bunny image arrived in 2021 and people react to the bunny with smiles.I added light green and grey green to painted paper collage, and added red and white found papers. I know I express feelings with color, and I think the brighter colors say I am more optimistic about the future (or happier with the new direction my art is taking). See many of my recent images and follow me at Instagram.
The following images show the transition from earlier work, and how my colors and imagery changed.
The image above is a collage titled Eclipse (2019), and is part of my Curvy Geometric series. It’s mixed media with paper, wire and string on a 12×12 inch panel. I made this collage with found and painted papers that are white and black, and included a tiny strip of paper printed with dark blue and red. I added a piece of paper with an embedded wire loop (I like the shape of the loop) that I created at a metal and paper-making workshop in 2018. Eclipse is reproduced in my Curvy Geometric #1 catalog (2019) and was exhibited in a group show at Museum Contempo in Shelton, WA. I think the image looks like a face. I selected the title Eclipse, because the wire is embedded (eclipsed).
The image above is a black and white collage titled Worry 1 (2018), acrylic and papers on paper, framed 18×17 inches. I exhibited Worry in 2018 in White Plains, NY at the ArtsWestchester Triennial (an invitational exhibition). In 2019, I exhibited this work in a group show at Art on Paper in NYC (an international art fair). Worry is also reproduced in my Curvy Geometric #1 catalog. It sold to a private collector in 2019. Do you see a face?
BLUE & BLACK
The following 3 images are transitional collages are all titled Black & Blue Criss Cross (1, 2 and 3), and dated March 2020. Each work includes black and blue painted papers on white 14×11 inch Bristol paper substrate. I wanted to create interior shapes blue on black and black on blue. I added thin painted paper strips glued diagonally across on top. I painted drawing papers in blue and black, then cut and pasted shapes to explore the boundaries of outside and inside. I like the contrast of the dark papers against the white Bristol substrate.
From mid-March 2020 to mid June 2020, I couldn’t work at my Media Loft, NY studio. It was the start of the Covid 19 pandemic. I set up a temporary studio at home on a 40 inch round table. I brought home glue, collage tools, papers and a stash of my 6×6 inch Curvy Geometric #1 and Curvy Geometric #2 catalogs. I cut up printed images from the catalogs, and created small collages on Bristol paper substrates. Both catalogs include small reproductions of recent works, including Eclipse and Worry above.
The image above is titled Road Block and dated June 2020. It’s collage, 12 x 9 inches on Bristol substrate. The background includes magazine text. Some of the text was black on white: some of the text was white on black. I painted the papers with Zinc White acrylic. All the other papers are cut ups from my Curvy Geometric catalogs. I did not paint the catalog papers.
The image above is titled Peekaboo and dated May 2020. It’s collage, 11×14 inches on Bristol paper. I layered multiple catalog cut ups and added 2 pieces of blue painted papers; some doodly transfer drawings cut into triangles and arched, curvy shapes. There’s also a piece of black mesh. Everything is flat.
The image above is an untitled collage on 40×30 inch panel made with cut and pasted B&W and tan catalog papers, blue painted papers and painted black and blue canvas. I did this work in June 2020 and was able to work big by placing the panel across my 40×40 inch round table – to prove to myself that I could work big. I took this photo, shown here sitting on the floor in my bedroom. By the end of June (2020), I was back at work at Media Loft.
The work above is titled Echo Chamber. It’s mixed media collage on 12×12 inch panel, created with doodly transfer drawings, hand-made and painted papers (framed 14×14 in), and dated September 2020. This is the 1st work in my new Echo series, and was exhibited in October 2020 at my solo Upstream Gallery show in Hastings on Hudson, NY, and exhibited again in 2021 (February-April 2021) at an invitational group show at the Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson, NY where it sold to a private collector. Echo Chamber is included in the Curvy Geometric #2 catalog.
The image above is titled Echo Chaos 1. It’s collage on paper mounted on canvas, 27×23 inches (January 2021). I created 5 collage paintings, all titled Echo Chaos. I was playing with taller shapes that touched and overlapped. Every work is either collage on canvas (Echo Chaos 2), or collage on paper, mounted on stretched canvas. All the works are 24×24 inches, 25×24 inches or 27×23 inches.
The image above is a collage painting on 16×16 panel, titled Echo Bunny 1 (June 2021). This is the 1st work in the Echo series with a bunny (just his head and ears here). I painted the panel background first with grey acrylic paint, painted papers with the same grey paint, then added multiple layers of collage with painted papers in blue, black and yellow-green. During the cut and paste process, I added found papers in B&W and red. Some papers had to be cut to fit in and around papers already glued down. Some cut papers look like eyes and mouths. This work includes small pencil drawing (doodles). Where did the bunny come from? I’m not sure. I have additional works titled Echo Bunny (paintings on canvas and collage on panel). Some are finished and some are in process. Every one is ready and waiting for an audience and a home.
I’ve posted images of some of the Echo series paintings and collage on Instagram. All the new works will appear soon at nikkal.com. Please email me if you want to visit my studio to see works in person.
Thank you for reading my studio notes about how my colors transitioned from black and white to black, white, blue, green, B&W and red. I welcome your comments.