John Nixon: EPW – Paintings for an Abstract Commune


John Nixon, Flag for an Abstract Commune, 2008-2013
Enamel on MDF, 17.75 x 23.5 inches / 45 x 60 cm

May 16 – June 21, 2014
Opening: Friday, May 16, 6-9pm

MINUS SPACE is delighted to present the exhibition John Nixon: EPW – Paintings for an Abstract Commune. This is the Melbourne, Australia-based artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States since 1996. It will include examples from two bodies of work: Paintings for an Abstract Commune, a suite of new, modestly-scaled enamel works on medium-density fiberboard that function simultaneously as both abstract paintings and flags; and Monochrome (Shaped Canvas), which use shape to impart dynamism into the discipline of monochrome painting.

John Nixon began his ongoing project – Experimental Painting Workshop (EPW) – in 1990 to encompass his expansive investigation into the history and legacy of abstraction in Europe, the United States, and Australasia. Working project by project, Nixon organizes his cumulative visual research into specific, yet open-ended groupings to which he assigns titles such as EPW: Orange, EPW: Polychrome, and EPW: Silver, among others.

For his exhibition EPW – Paintings for an Abstract Commune, Nixon presents for the first time his investigation into the relationship between simplified, geometric compositions and the reductive design of flags, which are symbolic emblems of countries, cultures, and organizations. Flags are potent abstract icons that inspire a wide-range of interpretations and associations, including socio-political movements, ethnic or religious affiliations, sporting competitions, and others.

In both Paintings for an Abstract Commune and Monochrome (Shaped Canvas), Nixon continues to employ elementary painting materials and collaged elements in a deliberately low-tech manner to striking visual effect.

John Nixon (b. 1949, Sydney, Australia; lives Melbourne, Australia) is one of the most renowned abstract artists of his generation. Since his first solo exhibition in Melbourne in 1973, he has mounted hundreds of solo exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States. In 1982, he was selected by Germano Celant to represent Australia at Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany.

Nixon’s work is included in public and private collections worldwide, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (NYC), Australian National Gallery (Canberra), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Heide Museum of Modern Art (Melbourne), TarraWarra Museum of Art (Melbourne), Art Gallery of Western Australia (Perth), Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), Auckland Art Gallery (Auckland, New Zealand), National Gallery of Contemporary Art (Seoul, Korea), Museum Sztuki (Lodz, Poland), Foire National d’Art Contemporain (Paris, France), Herning Kunstmuseumm (Denmark), Kunstmuseum Esberg (Denmark), Stiftung fur Konkrete Kunst (Reutlingen, Germany), Daimler Collection (Berlin, Germany), and Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (Switzerland), among many others.

Nixon is the recipient of the Australian Council Fellowship Award (2001) and the Clemenger Contemporary Art Award (1999). During the late 1960s, he studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School and Preston Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.