Andrew Nicholls is one of Western Australia’s most renowned and beloved contemporary artists, celebrated for his high-baroque and high-camp drawings, ceramics and photography, in addition to his expansive site-responsive curatorial projects, which have drawn inspiration from heritage and museum sites across Western Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Nicholls’ work explores how power has been expressed through aesthetics during the past three thousand years of Western culture. In particular, his works draw attention to seemingly benign or trivial artistic or folk traditions that nonetheless reveal profound insight into the political, social and economic context from which emerged. In recent years, this has particularly included the history of Western Magick, as a highly-subversive force on the fringes of Western culture. The artist explains:
“As a lapsed Catholic boasting over two decades as an agnostic-atheist, during the 2020 lockdowns I was somewhat bemused to find myself re-establishing a spiritual practice, when I was drawn to begin performing ritual magick. For me, as with practitioners throughout history, this provided a profound space of composure and empowerment from which to enact change in a world that had seemingly descended into chaos. My artmaking has subsequently aligned with this practice, resulting in works with a magickal intent built into them, or which are designed to encourage viewers to partake in ritual acts, or to strengthen my connection with various spiritual entities.”
Dedicated to the planet and the power of Venus, goddess of art, love and sex, Gay Magick presents high-camp artworks and ritual objects that span the liminal space between the physical and the metaphysical, the real and the imaginal, sincerity and parody. The exhibition includes Nicholls’ solo works, and collaborative pieces created in partnership with internationally-renowned Western Australian porcelain master, Sandra Black.
Andrew Nicholls was born in 1977 in Boorloo/Perth, and has been exhibiting nationally and internationally for more than two decades. Among his recent achievements are his $250,000 commission for the new City of Perth Library – a ceiling mural inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest (2016); a multi-panel drawing commission for the Artbank Collection (2016-2018); his 2018-2019 Hyperkulturemia solo exhibition at The Art Gallery of Western Australia; and his acclaimed recent curatorial project A Gentle Misinterpretation – Australian Artists and Chinoiserie at Fremantle Arts Centre (2022).
Photographs courtesy of Dan McCabe.