John Nixon
EPW: Silver

EPW: Silver
, 2006
Installation view
Click to enlarge

From the late 1970s, John Nixon has been creating works under the rubric of the Experimental Painting Workshop or EPW. Nixon has explored the vast possibilities for material and textural variation within stringent constraints, such as the colour orange or here, silver. Nixon explains the genesis of the silver works:

The silver paintings were begun in 1995 in Sydney as a parallel to the EPW: Orange paintings. The first works were made with aluminium enamel spray paint on MDF and cardboard. Silver was chosen to represent an alternative to the colour range. Silver is opaque and reflective, a non-colour in the sense that we know colours to be. Both silver and orange are full of energy and light.

In April 2001, six years after I first began the silver paintings, I was in New York visiting the studio of an artist friend. It was in a high-rise building on West 26th street, between 10th and 11th where the view from the front windows looked down over the flat rooftops of the low-rise buildings below. I noticed the rooftops had been recently re-painted with silver paint. The paint was thick and dense to waterproof the surfaces over many years. The sight was visually impressive as the sun shone on the rooftops covering the city block below. This experience reinforced my interest in silver as a strong alternative to orange. On returning to Sydney, I immediately began a new group of silver paintings using industrial 5 ply.

The production of the silver paintings escalated towards the end of 2003 in the new Briar Hill studio in Melbourne where a group of rejected older works that had been finally brought from storage could be reworked. Also a large number of stretchers and hessian sacks that had been kept in storage since the mid 1980s were returned � these materials were then used for the new silver works. The tactile faktura of the woven sacking stimulated further developments of what other material could be added to the surface to articulate textual concerns such as broken glass, sand, hessian webbing and coins. The paintings are now made with aluminium enamel paint and house painting brushes.

The paintings included in this exhibition are drawn from the period 2003 to 2006. They vary in size and predominantly use MDF board as a support surface. The paintings continue my ongoing interest in the principles of modernist painting.

John Nixon, 2006