New Zealand-born Berlin-based artist Nick Dewar uses digital animation, sound, assemblage and analogue objects such as vintage domestic equipment to create his installations. The last few years he has produced a series of uniquely melancholic paintings. Fascinated and bewildered by the passing of time, Nick Dewar uses an intrinsic and time-consuming technique of stressing and staining these canvasses. A symbolic alchemical process, as it allows Dewar to “simultaneously create and destroy: as the canvas is worn, the image reveals itself, giving the artist the satisfying ability to subvert the flow of time.”
The artist’s stated aim is to explores ideas of reality and its distortion through acquired information and experience, providing a glimpse of an alternate dimension, where the existential panic, dissonance and discord hidden beneath the surface of ordinary life is brought to the foreground.
Dewar’s art goes against the comforting notion of “ars longa” where art is of eternal relevance, acting as a repository for our values and taste. Instead, Dewar offers us art that superimposes layers of artificial decay upon interior objects and surfaces that are already morbidly reminiscent of the comforts of a bygone era.
The constant flow of time and change is something Nick finds fascinating, but also ultimately frightening and bewildering. These canvases acknowledge and embrace the process of change in which we’re all inevitably caught up.
Various tools are used to distress the canvas. Meanwhile, the surface is stained through exposure to layer after layer of a charcoal, graphite and water. Different parts of the canvas are protected from this aging process at different times, allowing an image to slowly materialize.
Areas exposed longest become darker, whilst areas with the least amount of exposure remain lighter. Images emerge from the background even as they fade into it. They are the outcome of a process which simultaneously creates and destroys: as the canvas is worn, the image reveals itself, giving Nick the satisfying ability to subvert the flow of time. Nick’s control is not absolute, however: his chaotic approach to mark-making allows the materials themselves to influence the final result.
The forms which appear on the canvas are selected by Nick through an intuitive and gradual process of elimination. He is drawn to decorative motifs found in the domestic sphere: patterns on wallpaper, bed linen and porcelain, for example. These motifs are given new meaning in this darker context, hinting at a horror found beneath the surface of everyday living.