L A R A N I C K E L
My paintings are installation-based, depicting objects, plants and animals. They are life-size, unframed and displayed much the way the subject of the painting would be in reality (e.g., up high, flat on the ground, partially or completely hidden, protruding out from a wall, etc.). The backgrounds are left white in order to reference and emphasize the neutral space which a gallery/museum wall provides. As a result of these tactics, the subject of the painting is pushed forward into the room, making the room itself the setting of the painting. This is contrary to traditional, illusionistic painting where the subject is contained within the picture plane and the viewer is pushed inward to the setting of the painting.
I am interested in how people perceive and experience the subjects I paint as well as how people perceive and experience traditional wall painting (meaning stretched canvas, not murals/cutouts). Painting has a lengthy and established history, full of expectations about how and where and what a painting should display. Rather than contradict these inherited rules, my intention is to highlight the obstacles and limitations which this medium presents. Historically, painting has either been representational/illusionistic or abstract/object-like; I want my paintings to be both. When a representational painting addresses the fact that it is a three dimensional object, as well as a window into another world, it has the ability to exist in our world while existing in its own.
My work is about how the physical space of the viewer interacts with the pictorial space of a painting. This interaction often creates a level of awkwardness, but it is this discomfort which keeps my paintings from becoming simply decoration and the wall simply a place to decorate. I want my paintings to activate the spaces they are in, making the surrounding architecture play an active role in the viewer's experience. In this regard, it is not always effective or appropriate for a painting to proclaim itself, to state its presence at eye level on the wall, or to even be seen by anyone - as tradition and expectation would suggest.