Looking at Art
Graham Nickson’s paintings are about the figure and its relationship to the land, sea and sky. They are also about starkness and isolation, solitude and peace. This painting would seem to advertise the pleasures of the beach; however, there is an ominous quality that comes from his color choices and the high contrast of dark and light.
The postures he gives his figures turn their outlines into abstract shapes, and we can see how imperfect, malleable and sculptural the body is. Nickson has created an ordinary scene for us to contemplate our bodies, our routines and our inner thoughts. Because there does not seem to be an obvious narrative, we are left to create one for ourselves.
Nickson, who was born in Great Britain, moved to New York in 1976 at age 30 to teach at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, where he is now the dean. He has been working on a series of paintings depicting bathers for more than 20 years. Insular Bathers (1979–1983) is part of a show called Private Myths on display at the Naples Museum of Art.