A group, a crowd, a mob, a pack, a throng, a party. Before 2020 these words represented the most commonplace scenes of daily life–people, together. Simon Nicholas has been working on his depictions of gatherings for half a decade, but thanks to the social isolation of the 2020 pandemic, new implications in his work begin to emerge.
Nicholas is adept at composing his crowds in such a way that we understand he’s collapsing the boundaries of traditional subject/object roles of picture making and picture consumption. In Gallery VI (above) a group of art viewers is depicted head-on–they stare directly at us but they aren’t challenging our gaze, they are simply looking at a painting. In the exterior scene in Park VII (not pictured), the artist’s figures fill an expansive park field looking in the same direction. The subject of their attention is offstage or obscured in the darkening colors and melting gesture of the aerial perspective.
A global longing and a collective desire to simply be together has emerged in almost every conversation we now have. As the pandemic starts to recede and we allow ourselves to get excited at the thought of having a drink at a bar, seeing live music or walking through a museum with a close friend, we start to see the beauty and the meaning in simple, blissful proximity to one another. Everyday togetherness has been Simon Nicholas’s subject matter for years. In 2021 these works become flares of hope, a visual taste of what’s to come, and a reminder that life is made in the seemingly inconsequential moments of our togetherness.
Simon Nicholas (b. 1954, London, England) lives and works in Norway.
GATHERINGS: Recent Paintings by Simon Nicholas
Exhibition Dates: April 1 – May 10, 2021
49 Geary Street, Suite 416
San Francisco, CA 94108