Interview: Nick Malone
Luca Curci talks with Nick Malone during VISIONS, third appointment of ANIMA MUNDI 2022, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Nick Malone is a British artist who crosses art forms to create adventures in painting, drawing and writing, often combining traditional and experimental techniques in unforeseen ways to create artwork full of dynamic contrasts. He was born in the north of England, his childhood was spent stargazing and exploring the surrounding moors. His subsequent education included postgraduate degrees in Contemporary Literature from Queen Mary College, London and in Fine Art from Central St Martins. His first book, The Burial of Crispin Pyke, had an introduction by Sir William Empson, some of whose ideas in Seven Types of Ambiguity he subsequently transferred into painting. He travelled extensively across Russia, Europe and America, experiences that combined to provide creative material for his later work. In his thirties, against all advice, he then threw up everything to become an artist. Nick Malone’s work has been exhibited across the world, from Japan to the United States, including at the Royal Academy and the Carrousel du Louvre. He has won various awards, including Arts Council England Awards and Fellowship of The Royal Society of Arts. His artwork and artist’s books are represented in a number of collections, including The British Council, Salford Art Gallery, The Royal Society of Arts, Milton Keynes Gallery Archive, The Drawing Room, The University of Wisconsin, BUPA, The RAC and GlaxoSmithKline. Throughout the explores issues of identity, transformation and change. His art practice has evolved over time, from a hybrid abstraction to his more recent work using collage, text and imagery, providing an iconography of inner fable, archaeology and dream. Nick Malone currently lives and works in Greenwich, London.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Nick Malone – Everything. I knew from the age of 4 that I was put on this earth to be an artist – I somehow taught myself to read with a wonderfully illustrated book entitled ‘Pinnochio’, and I remember thinking, when Gepetto enters his workshop, “How marvellous to have your own space where you can create these objects of such wonder.” When he reaches out, the piece of wood that runs away is, of course, the piece that is made into Pinocchio, and I do still think it’s a superb metaphor for art – a piece of dead wood that is turned into a living boy.
LC – What are you currently working on?
NM – My latest work creates adventures in painting and story, exploring issues of mystery, identity and change. This is underpinned by the narrative of a graphic novel I am writing – ‘The Disappearance of Makepeace – A Tale of Two Lives’, a mystery thriller tracing the relationship of Eustace and Makepeace from their first childhood meeting to their final encounter when Eustace traces Makepeace to his secret London lair. It is a story of disappearance, loss and discovery, and of the adventure of becoming an artist. My next London solo will be this autumn at Bermondsey Project Space, a gallery supporting new developments in contemporary art partly funded with support from Arts Council England.
LC – What is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
NM – For me the role of the artist is the same as that played by Makepeace with Eustace – to open up trapdoors of imagination and wonder, piercing every day, for anyone prepared to be open to the experience. For me, as an artist of other worlds, this role extends into contemporary art itself. Of course there are many other kinds of art that are possible, and I would only say that art to be art must fuse its ideas with the material object to create a unique experience, rather than just making say a political or social statement as such.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
NM – My work explores transmutation and metamorphic change in different ways – the unending dissolution of different forms, one into another, where narrative, fantasy and adventure fuse with the materials to offer different dimensions, both within the viewer’s own psyche and in the physical world around. Offering direct equivalents to material physics and the nature of thought, it seeks consensus in its own reality, and is, in its own terms, a form of realism – the owl is a flower, the goat is a flame – there is no death, just a rearrangement of atoms.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
NM – Creating new ways of seeing from my creative base that a wide, varied audience is able to relate to in different ways.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
NM – The notion of “intrinsic connection between all living entities on the planet, which relates to the world in a similar way as the human soul is connected to the human body” is fundamental to all my work, as the foregoing would suggest. The exhibition offers the opportunity for its concept to be presented through myriad ways of seeing, opening many different possibilities.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
NM – The ‘Interface’ series, of which ‘Interface IV’ is a part, refers to an inner world of dissolving forms, with a geography that challenges normal expectations of illusion and space. These drawings derive from the human body, extending a vocabulary that helps to inform larger work. The work connects to the notion of a universal life force flowing through the changing perceptions of inner and outer realities.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
NM – Always supportive and encouraging, ITSLIQUID offers a hugely important opportunity for all artists across a range of art forms at a time when the old systems in the art world are clearly failing.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
NM – Very much so. One always has the sense when dealing with the ITSLIQUID team of personal interaction with special individuals who really care about art.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
NM – At this point in time it’s perfect, offering extensive opportunity for both physical and virtual exhibition and publicity.
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