Andrew Nicholls’ WA Now solo exhibition will showcase his recent Hyperkulturemia series. The major focus of his practice for over the past five years, Hyperkulturemia is the outcome of a series of residencies in Italy between 2014-2017.
These residencies were an opportunity for Nicholls to engage with various sites associated with the 18th century Grand Tour, a rite-of-passage that saw young, aristocratic men complete their education by journeys to Italy to view the remains of classical antiquity and the masterpieces of the Renaissance.
The series’ title refers to the condition of ‘Stendhal Syndrome’ (aka Florence Syndrome or Rome Syndrome), reported to have been experienced by tourists overcome by the splendours of high Renaissance art. It was often explained as coming from an “excess of culture in the blood.”
Andrew Nicholls says, “We owe the tour some of the most sublime aesthetic achievements of the 18th century, yet at the same time as it was informing this remarkable cultural legacy it was for the most part undertaken by extremely privileged, spoilt youths who were effectively on an extended gap year, travelling for the first time free of their families and the oppressive atmosphere of aristocratic society, with few financial constraints. As such, the tourists behaved (for the most part) appallingly: drinking, gambling, fathering illegitimate children, dying of venereal disease or locked in debtors’ prison. Hyperkulturemia explores the disjuncture between the Enlightenment’s sombre idealisation of Classicism, and the repressed, yet unruly, desires of the British aristocracy.”
AGWA Curator, Robert Cook comments,“This seductive and playfully provocative display will feature Nicholls’ wonderfully choreographed photographs, beautifully detailed drawings and finely-made porcelain. As it comes into being through a wry (and deeply informed) meditation on the cultural significance of the European Grand Tour, it is the perfect opportunity for the Gallery to showcase his unique way of engaging with contemporary and historical art and modes of being, and to honour his enormous contribution to the creative life of WA.”
Hyperkulturemia is part of the WA Now exhibition series showcasing leading WA artists.
Andrew Nicholls is an Australian/British artist, writer, and curator whose practice explores how power has been expressed through aesthetics, historically. He is especially concerned with periods of cultural transition during which Western civilisation’s stoic aspirations were undone by base desires, fears or compulsions, and with 18th century Britain’s fascination with, and paranoia of, other cultures and ‘othered’ identities.
Initially drawing-based, his practice now incorporates a range of other mediums, in particular ceramics and photography. He especially draws inspiration from heritage sites and museum collections, and has coordinated and participated in residencies at numerous iconic heritage locations across Western Australia, England, and Italy.
Nicholls has exhibited across Australia, Southeast Asia, Italy and the United Kingdom. He has been the recipient of two Creative Development Fellowships from the Western Australian Government, and undertaken commissions for organisations in Australia and the United States, including his $250,000 ceiling mural for the City of Perth Library. His work is represented in collections including Artbank, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the City of Perth, and the Kedumba Collection of Australian Drawings.
Information provided by the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
Image copyrite: Andrew Nicholl. Mangia Gelato (Piazza del Popolo) 2015-2018