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"Lara Nickel; A horsey set" by Michael Abatemarco, Santa Fe New Mexican, 2016


Lara calls her practice installation-based painting. She paints detailed compositions of flora and fauna such as prickly pears, zebras, jaguars, and horses but with references to art history that nudge her work into the conceptual realm [....] Lara’s paintings rest perpendicular to the wall rather than hanging flat, forcing a more dynamic interaction for the viewer.

Art in Review: "30 Under 30: The Next Generation" by Iris McLister, Santa Fe New Mexican, 2015


Lara Nickel’s oil painting Giant Prickly Pear is more than seven feet wide, its mammoth proportions exaggerated by an unusual display. Propped against a right angle in a corner of the gallery, it seems to pop out from the walls behind it. one of the show’s more established artists. Giant Prickly Pear is technically superb, and the vivid green, richly textured surface looks brightly modern against a stark white background.

Critical Reflection; "UTILITIES" by Hannah Hoel, THE Magazine, 2015


Lara Nickel's Siena Bricks are foreign, carefully cordoned off, and very clean. Her stretched canvases, each measuring 12.25" x 2.75", lying on the floor and arranged in a herringbone pattern, emulate the bricks found at Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. They are the most recognizable objects in Utilities and cite something incredibly utilitarian - medeval infrastructure. Unlike Carl Andre's floor pieces, Siena Bricks are for conceptual inspection only, thier astutue crispness referencing minimalism as opposed to the soles of billions of pedestrians and horseshoes.




1 2    H O R S E S

October 19 - December 1  2019



Turin, Italy



I consider myself a painter, though I would use the phrase "installation-based painter". Half of the meaning of my paintings/drawings comes from the way they are installed and interact with a space. Without this installation side to my work my paintings/drawings would be boring - they would become simply portraits of the subject. I do not consider myself an installation artist however, as I am working to change the way people interact specifically with painting and drawing.

1 2    H O R S E S


My work is about how the physical space of the viewer interacts with the pictorial space of a painting.


My subjects (often objects, plants and animals) are representational, life size and have white backgrounds which mimic and emphasize the “neutral” gallery or museum wall. As a result, the subject of the painting is pushed forward into the room, making the room itself the setting of the painting, and making the painting act more as an object.


I am interested in the long tradition of illusionistic painting and the different ways to play with the obstacles and limitations this tradition presents; specifically how to keep painting from becoming simply decoration and the wall simply a place to decorate.

I am interested in using realism as a way to explore the sculptural qualities in painting- specifically how paintings exist in the viewer's physical space as well as how paintings exist in their own pictorial world. 

The unusual display of the paintings is intentional, the neutral white background is intentional, the subject being life-size and realistic is intentional- all to emphasize the contrast between the pictorial qualities of painting and the object-like qualities of painting. 

D U S T   I N   A   C O R N E R

This is a single 2in x 2in oil painting, depicting dust on the surface of a canvas.  It is unframed and is displayed flat on the floor, fitted into a corner. 


Dust in a Corner has been documented since 2008 in a wide range of museums, historical sites, and cities which include Versailles, the streets of Rome and New York, guerilla-style at the Metropolitan, and an authorized photography shoot at the Hirshhorn.

The Horse has been represented in the History of Art by almost every culture in every time period. In 1969, Jannis Kounellis (member of the Italian art movement Arte Povera) brought twelve living horses inside a gallery space in Rome, creating an awkward, dreamlike experience and a very re-interpreted image of the Horse in an art context. Lara Nickel's homage consists of twelve life-size horse paintings - all painted realistically with white backgrounds which mimic the “neutral” gallery wall. They are displayed in a similar manner to Kounellis’ live horses: positioned on the ground and installed perpendicularly to the wall so they appear to be standing in the room, making the architectural space itself the setting of the painting. Not all of the paintings are clearly visible from the front of the room, requiring viewers to walk in between the paintings in order to properly see them. This display exposes the backs of the canvases - something often ignored in the tradition of painting, but which is the very structure of a painting's three dimensionality.


Perhaps the most famous piece of Arte Povera and of Kounellis, his twelve live horses were perceived more like livestock and less like the noble, majestic and symbolic animals that we associate with in classical painting and sculpture. Absurd, temporary and unsellable, his piece critiqued the art market and questioned what mediums are acceptable as art (living animals vs. bronze, marble, paint...). Kounellis' “12 Horses”, while not physically being a painting, directly referenced the concept and tradition of Painting. It forced the viewer, through the Art Historically loaded subject of the Horse, to think of Painting beyond its material aspects of paint on canvas and consider it through its other qualities - as drama, space, feeling, composition, subject matter, theatre, idea. The live animals brought blunt visibility to the normally invisible architecture and “empty” space, making it one of the seminal examples of installation art. Kounellis' installation also complexly functioned as a two dimensional painting - the frustrating inability to enter the area between the horses (due to potential physical danger) flattened the entire exhibition space. Space itself became something solid, something to look at (rather than be in) in the same way one looks at a painting.


Lara Nickel's “12 Horses – Homage to Jannis Kounellis” references several ideas in Kounellis’ original piece concerning the conceptual definition of Painting as well as how the literal object of paint on canvas interacts with space and time. Because Nickel's paintings are posed in an anti-classical manner (independent from the walls and yet anchored to them like Kounellis' horses), they contradict the pre-established image of the Horse in Art as it is known through classical sculpture and painting. These representational paintings are experienced from many angles, as if they were sculptures, while simultaneously being illusionistic representations. Like Kounellis' piece, Nickel's installation activates the traditionally neutral space of the gallery through a feeling of uneasiness. Because the canvases designate and define the space, the entire physical expanse of the gallery belongs awkwardly to the paintings and not to the viewer. This display comments on how Painting is a fundamental concept - a painting carries an image but is not limited to the image. Using Kounellis' original piece as an art historical backdrop, these paintings are not only portraits of horses but painting-as-illusion, painting-as-object, and painting-as-situation.


“12 Horses – Homage to Jannis Kounellis” portrays diverse breeds of horses, deliberately presented in classical and nonclassical poses. It brings together several equestrian organizations (including the Manade Laurent from the Camargue, France; the Palio in Siena, Italy; the Cadre Noir in Saumur, France; the Garde Republicaine in Paris, France) and various iconic and anonymous horses from the American west.


I have solved Caravaggio’s murder; rang the doorbells of many amazing artists even though I am shy; carried a miniature painting around in my purse since 2008; touched La Bocca della Verita; witnessed ancient events in the middle of the night at Zuni pueblo; bribed my way through the Palio in Siena; fallen asleep against historic monuments; and become an expert rose thief.



People’s Choice Award, NM State Fair, ABQ:

At 7 years old I won best watercolor for a seascape which was accidentally hung upside down but still looked good (it was pink)


Scratch-and-Sniff strawberry sticker, San Diego, CA:

High praise from kindergarten teacher on my understanding of color theory for expertly using a pencil when no black crayon was available

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