This article was originally published at Haute Macabre in March of 2017.
Each time I see fresh work from the hand of Nicomi Nix Turner, I feel I am plunged headlong into the lost and forgotten pages of an adventuring biologist’s or botanist’s journal, recovered from former expeditions into secret realms. Human and flora, fungi and bone, beetle and animal are examined in delicate, unflinching detail, and are at turns both lush and fiercely throbbing with life, and ripe and rank with death and decay.
In her body of work, what I’ve begun to think of as this imaginary diary, Turner captures a “…cacophony of silent movement and erratic soliloquies”, documenting the writhings and witherings of those that inhabit this realm, and which illustrates the sublime wonder and splendid terrors of such a place– and the irresistible desire, against all better judgement, to return, again and again.
Sometimes, though, when I encounter Nicomi Nix Turner’s work I am struck by the unmistakable realization that what I am glimpsing is not an artist’s rendering of some mythological environment separate and apart from our own, but rather our world, exactly as it is, portrayed by an artist who observes and understands the underlying spirituality and divine connections that run through it all. Creation and destruction and renewal, interpreted in exquisite strokes of graphite and charcoal, and elevating natural processes and biological phenomena to resemble a dreamy, otherworldly sort of magic…but which are in fact rooted in nature and occurring all around us, all of the time… and very much of the world we live in.
Yipping, snarling hounds thrash and contort and snap at butterflies, serene of wing and seemingly suspended in midair. A wounded young man gazes raptly skyward, his expression both tortured and beatific, as tears trace a slow course down his waxen cheeks and blood droplets collect in the shadow of a collarbone. One thing I always come back to, when assessing my reactions to Turner’s various works, is that I’ve never before encountered an artist who encapsulates motion–and stillness– so richly, and so beautifully in their art.
Turner shared with Haute Macabre that a series of events in 2016 caused her to begin to explore themes of “depravity, isolation, division, defeat and betrayal,” in her work, and is currently in the process of creating a new series incorporating these motifs for her upcoming show at Last Rites Gallery. She continues, referencing these subjects as it relates to her evolving artistic process and the recent rekindling of her passion for creating:
“Last year, I discovered something that reignited my excitement with creating – allowing spontaneity to take place in the works I so earnestly strove to attain purity in. An impulsive brushstroke of wax, erratic movements of charcoal, the possibility of damage- these unabashed moments of honesty are starting to evolve my process and works.”
The Dying Thought opens July 8th at Last Rites Gallery NY