Studio Visit: Nick Mullaly
Nick Mullaly is an artist living and working in Australia. His work can be seen in PLEAT's July 2017 exhibition as well as nickmullaly.tumblr.com.
Please describe your work.
Much of my work centres on human behaviour, my relationship with identity and themes of life and death, accessed through representations of celebration and mourning. Oftentimes figurative and vibrant, my ideas are assembled into the picture in a collage-like fashion, leading to whimsical scenes. During the process of making these 5 paintings, I was particularly contemplating time and distance, as something tangible but also when confronted with the human psyche. In my different portrayal of hands I discover a new language which discusses these themes, along with the power of connection. Morose but playful, these scenes highlight the juxtaposition between possession and emptiness, and the nuances between joy, humour, melancholia and the bittersweet.
What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?
I devour information, books, photos, videos and everything relating to art but also real life and things found in all mediums. I would argue that many of my works are influenced by my own thoughts and experiences, but they are also inspired by similar experiences or events relating to others – people I know, people I don’t know, those in the public eye and so forth. My ideas, compositions and conceptual framework are usually planned out in my journals, remaining the same when I am making my works, however the way I navigate them and use them in a certain manner can become very spontaneous. This is because I set up rules and guidelines when I plan my compositions, but then disregard them and ‘break the rules’ as I create the work. Not only does this make for a refreshing, fun and engaging studio practice, but it also allows me to see my ideas in a new form, which is very exciting. My aim is not to focus on my material limitations, but instead to see what I can make from my ideas, and what new pathways can spring out of them.
Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
I am constantly learning things from artists of the past and present. I look up to Picasso, Matisse and Munch greatly for their usage of forms, line and colour, and how their work is able to represent reality so uniquely and unmistakably. I admire Peter Doig’s work, and the journey his ideas take from drawing to painting. I love Tal R for his exciting engagement with colour and his hectic compositions, Elizabeth Peyton for her beautiful depiction of the male portrait and refinement of materials, and Hernan Bas for his explosive approach to layering and building up a surface, along with scenes which tell stories encompassing aspects of queer identity. The energy, excitement and work ethic of artists and creatives I surround myself with also encourages my art-making.
How has social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc) affected your studio practice?
I find Instagram and Tumblr to be great platforms to keep up to date with works by contemporary artists, along with a useful tool to discover more galleries, artists and artwork. This motivates me to publish my work online regularly, so people can see my work and I can interact with theirs. I also find it to be a great way to document a lot of my work, creating a type of online portfolio for my own interest, but also open for anybody to view if they wish.