Melbourne artist Tomislav Nikolic (b. 1970) is known for luminous abstract paintings that draw on a wide range of references from classical art to Minimalism, from popular culture to esoteric colour theory.
JD: For Melbourne Now you are presenting two recent paintings including 3: we all have a dream of a place we belong, 2013. Can you discuss particular ideas or points of reference that informed your making of this work?
This work is the third in a group of seven from my current ongoing exploration of the Seven Rays. In particular this group was referencing the illusion of ‘Glamour’, as outlined in the book Glamour: A World Problem by the theosophist Alice Bailey (1880 – 1949). I want to balance these concepts but trust my intuition to guide my decisions for the final work. These references, more often have little to do with my final intentions. I often feel that being too aware of them interferes with the physical experience of viewing the work.
JD: Your paintings are typically built up with multiple layers of marble dust and pigments. Can you talk about this process and how you came to use this particular medium?
Colour is somewhat roguish in behaviour. I am determined to work with it as the focus of my painting practice – not so as to control it or ‘illustrate’ it but to allow each painting to express a chromatic potential. Using colour as I do, it becomes apparent that pigments accrue a certain density and luminosity with time and layering. When colours are set against each other the pitch of the colour alters in both expected and unexpected ways.
Whilst my interest in the esoteric theories that attend to colour is significant, it is a springboard – a structuring notion with which to begin. Once I have started to work with the pigments I can be ambushed by other possibilities.
Early on I’d been working with numerous gloss mediums applying them to the surface in washes, to build a desired colour intensity. One of the mediums I used was a structure compound that contained marble dust. I’d previously used this to create a 3 dimensional detail on the surface but started to experiment with it as a base for my wash medium in the mid 1990’s and developed it from there.
The tidal boundaries of the interior aspect of the painting as the result of time and layering – a finessing of pigments building up a personality and structure.
JD: The frames you use for your works are sometimes quite elaborate and appear to be integrated with the painting itself. Could you discuss the role of framing in your work?
I suppose I treat the frame not as device which signals the end of the painting, rather it is a container for the colour and one that becomes involved in this spill of colour and it’s juxtaposition. The architecture of the frame demands to be treated as part of the work. It’s relationship to the central canvas is implicit so to treat it as an inert boundary makes little sense.
Painting the front and sides and even back of the frame is important to me as each aspect, each plane is part of a totality.
Early in my practice I viewed the canvas as an object and this logically extended to the sculptures. The material, treatment and presentation undergo the same considerations. As such, I viewed the side and back of the stretcher as being part of the work. As the constructed frames developed and began to be incorporated into the work these elements are integral materials to the works manifestation.