Gallery 16 is pleased to present Patio Music, a solo exhibition by Bay Area artist Tucker Nichols. This new collection of paintings is a study in mixed feelings depicted through decorative objects—flowers in vases, decorative bushes, garden statuaries and related abstract forms. Many of the works are vibrant storms of energy, while others are somber and sweet. All of them seem to express conflicting emotions: cheerful and sad, serious and funny. A giant bowl of overflowing candies conveys a feeling of overly insistent good times. A bush form appears so tightly wrapped in straps that it can’t breathe. A vase exploding with flowers is just barely contained by the edges of the painting. Taken together, the paintings offer a sense of the possibility—and inherent futility—of art as a tool for expressing what words cannot.
Patio Music includes approximately 30 new works created with discarded house paint on wood panel and framed works on paper. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog of photographs, sculptures and paintings that gives a broader sense of Nichols’s work and his often funny perspective on the world around us.
“This is a strange time to be making such colorful paintings,” Nichols acknowledges. “But under the initial positive energy there’s a lot of confusion and fear too, trust me. Painting is a magical, mysterious format for expression. It’s great for capturing a driving spirit but horrible for conveying anything specific. It’s like typing with mittens.”
As flowers serve as malleable messengers in Nichols’s paintings, they also provide the perfect amount of content for him to remain free in his work. The New York Times’ Roberta Smith writes, “Part of the modernity and joy of Mr. Nichols’s paintings is the suggestion that all the elements in a composition are autonomous. The pictures are all temporary arrangements that will scatter as soon as you look away. That they seem eager to do so is part of their strength.” Nichols continues this sense of play and innovative use of space for Patio Music. By including more elements of a suggested environment in his newest paintings, he offers a slight departure from his typical straight-on, headshot-like perspective. These vague hints of place, neither indoor nor outdoor, suggest an almost surreal social gathering. Patio Music is a dreamlike collection of unexpected objects on display, like snapshots from a grand party you find yourself at well before any other guests have arrived.
About the artist: Tucker Nichols lives in Northern California. His work has been featured at the Drawing Center in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Denver Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. His first solo museum exhibition, Almost Everything On The Table, will open at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT in May of 2018.
His drawings have been published in McSweeney's, The Thing Quarterly, Nieves Books and the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times. He is co-author of the books Crabtree (with Jon Nichols) and This Bridge Will Not Be Gray (with Dave Eggers).