Jonathan Nichols

Australian Artist for the Malaysia-Australia Visual Artists’ Residency 2012

jonathan_nicholsAbout the artist

Jonathan Nichols lives in Melbourne, where he works as an artist, and sometimes as a curator and writer. He has maintained a studio-based painting practice since graduating from the School of Art at the Australian National University in 1988 and completing postgraduate studies at the University of NSW in 1989. He has exhibited widely in Australia, including at private art galleries, public museums and artist-run spaces.

About the art

Although the process of his paintings begins by sourcing and selecting digital images that are first collaged on the computer screen, Nichols’ work takes a painterly form that is fundamentally connected to manual ability and his own creative desires—establishing a clear aesthetic distance from more technologically complex methods of production. He is interested in painterly ground rules and ideas as well as the potential for new motifs and chance associations.

Using the computer technology in this way allows Nichols a certain level of introspective inquiry that then independently affects the look and feel of each finished painting.

Nichols is interested in the possibilities that connect and run between people. His subjects found in various digital media or other research material or in person generally maintain their anonymity, however. His paintings have been described as conveying ‘the experience of seeing someone at a distance’, which is recorded ‘as a sort of touch or feeling of proximity’. Jonathan Nichols uses the human figure as a point of correlation or orientation – the figure becomes both cipher and affect.


Residency plans

At Rimbun Dahan, drawing from his experience in Malaysia, Nichols plans to research and develop new figurative motifs which would be sourced from street scenes and popular media; thinking about culture and history, everyday society and forms of portraiture. He is interested in figurative studies (or visual storytelling) that can bridge or define cultural traditions and aesthetics, for example those associated with the Malay, Chinese, Indian and indigenous people. Nichols is keen to spend time discovering how these interconnect with his own knowledge of Western painterly traditions; to learn what is held in common between artists and what is not.

For more information visit