Review: John Nixon at TarraWarra

Artist: John Nixon
Gallery: TarraWarra Museum of Art
Dates: 31 March - 11 May, 2007

I am an artist who has recently arrived from another country. A local artist friend took me along to see my first exhibition of paintings by John Nixon. My friend told me that Nixon was an important artist of whose work I should see.

John Nixon’s polychrome paintings are pleasant. Over one hundred bright paintings arranged in groups based on his idea of color-rhythm. Though it was hard to tell if there was any "deeper" logical relationship among each group of paintings, the show as a whole looked unified because of the basic colours and the pure geometric forms that Nixon used.

Is Nixon concerned only colour and form? This is one possible angle to look at his paintings. But, for me, the most striking thing about viewing the show is how Nixon dealt with painting. It appears that Nixon has a very relaxed attitude toward art making. The artist painted with industrial paint on wood panels available from common hardware stores. He cared little if the colours he applied on panel were perfectly even and flat. All of these look unusual to this professional painter, even with my interest in geometric paintings. This is the most interesting aspect of Nixon’s geometric paintings—a very relaxed game of colour, form and rules that is very different from most contemporary geometric works that are supported by strong theory, such as Peter Halley’s paintings.

By Shiau Peng Chen

Shiau Peng Chen

Shiau-Peng Chen was born 1976 in Penghu, Taiwan. She studied art at Taipei National University of the Arts and Pratt Institute. Her practice is based in painting, text-work, photography and installation. The artist now lives in Melbourne, Australia.