What was the last exhibition you experienced?
(KN)The last exhibition I saw was Melissa Walter’s A Study of Dark Matter at Bread and Salt. I’m drawn to a mind that can look at something as vast and unknown as the universe and extract images so airy, delicate and orderly. Dr. Karin Sandstrom, an astrophysicist from UCSD, spoke at the show. She spoke knowledgeably and enthusiastically about dark matter, how it makes itself known and the ways scientists are trying to understand its nature. Melissa shows us, elegantly and with great precision, what dark matter might look like. She brings it to Earth, making it tactile and immediate for us. I enjoyed the show immensely and look forward to following Melissa’s work.
Has an exhibition surprised you?
(KN)The last show that surprised me was Witness to War: Callot, Goya, Bellows at the Timken Museum of Art. It is a show of prints by the three artists, graphically depicting war. The show surprised me because it is a challenging subject. The Timken took a risk putting this exhibition together in San Diego in 2017. The surprise is in an institution taking a risk. I think they did it beautifully and with great integrity.
Can you name a book that has influenced your work?
(KN)The last great book that I read that influenced my work is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I reread it recently. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to do – anything. No excuse stands up to Pressfield’s take on the source and power of our resistance to do the things we want to do, but so often and in so many ways, stop ourselves from doing. The book influences my work by reminding me that discipline, showing up daily, is the only thing that gets the work done.
What under-appreciated artist do you think people should know about?
(KN) There is a figurative painter in Spain, Xevi Sola Serra, that I think people should know about. His work is very political. Challenging. Definitely not for everyone. When I look at his paintings I am moved to think about identity and concepts of beauty. I enjoy the risk in his work and am reminded and encouraged, each time I look at it, to step closer to the edge with my own work.
What artists or art movements inform your painting practice?
(KN) Artistically, I feel the strongest kinship to the Expressionists and the Old Masters in the things I most value in a painting. In practice, however, I know that my work is informed by every artistic expression that’s ever caught my minds’ attention. It’s a big bag of possibilities that my brain draws on to solve whatever creative puzzle is before me. Artistic pluralism.
What questions do you ask yourself while you are painting?
(KN) Balance is the thing I’m always striving for in a painting. How I get there is the playground for me. Any number of combinations of artistic elements can create balance in a piece. I look for opportunities to create (or recognize and preserve) disorder or counter-intuitive moments of color, line, form, etc., to play against described form and narrative. A moment of weightlessness is the goal. I’ve only hit it to my satisfaction a couple of times.
Do you have a favorite living artist?
(KN) This is an impossible question. There are so many incredible artists making work in 2017. Of the figurative painters that I follow, for mindblowing technical skills Conor Walton (Wicklow, Ireland) and Karen Woolley Offutt (Austin, Texas) always take my breath away. Phil Hale is a master of the elements. He pulls down the moon with his brush. I think Chuck Connelly is an important voice in painting. His gravely immediacy. Sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz for the scale of her vision. There are too many to name. A wonderful problem to have.
Can you recall a moment when you have had a visceral response to a work of art?
(KN) In 2005 I was in Budapest on my honeymoon. My husband and I saw an exhibition of Durer’s prints while we were there. When we had viewed the exhibit we took the stairs down to the basement of the museum. At the bottom of the stairs, we were confronted by a small room filled with twenty or so life-sized clay figures, kneeling, backs facing us. The backs of the figures were highly textured as if they had been slashed. It was an arresting moment. Once I caught my breath I was taken by the technical beauty of the figures. The contrast between that and the blunt, horrific content was such a powerful communication. I’ll never forget it. The artist’s name is Magdalena Abakanowicz. The piece is titled Abakans.
Where do you find inspiration?
(KN) I am most inspired right now by my own life and the times we’re living in. What it is to be human, in all of its infinite variations and deep similarities, is a constant source of creative inspiration for me. Life is challenging and beautiful, and so is art. Life moves so quickly. Time and memory are slippery. So much expression seems to serve as a device to slow or stop time for a moment. To try to capture something long enough to take a good look at it, hopefully understanding it a little better. Always chasing the high, the joy and wonder of creating something out of nothing.
Niehans will be an exhibiting artist at Art Above 2017 on Saturday, November 4, from 5-9pm. The event will take place on the rooftop of the Porto Vista Hotel in Little Italy, San Diego.
(Free admission with RSVP)
ART ABOVE EXHIBITION: RSVP HERE
November 4, 5-9PM. Porto Vista Hotel (5th Floor Rooftop) 1835 Columbia Street, San Diego 92101
ARTIST TALKS: On Wednesday, October 25, from 6-8PM Art Above exhibiting artistsJeremy Zierau, Chantal Wnuk, Kim Kane Niehans, Robert Andrade and Ry Beloin will give an artist talk followed by a Q&A with the audience. This event is free and open to the public. RSVP HERE
(Refreshments, Valet and Street Parking available)
Location: Porto Vista Hotel San Diego 1835 Columbia St.
For more information regarding ART ABOVE please contact firstname.lastname@example.org