Jonathan Nichols: The inside of painting

9 May—1 September 2024

Jonathan Nichols
The inside of painting

Jonathan Nichols is known for making figurative paintings that evoke a sense of intimacy, while still reaching outward into the exterior world around us.

In this exhibition, he presents two groupings of paintings made 20 years apart. The first six works, dated between 1998 and 2001, were painted directly from the screen of one of the early commercially available laptop computers – a 1997 Apple PowerBook 1400cs. The second group uses mannequins and figurative shapes from the history of art. These paintings were completed between 2021 and 2022, after Nichols returned to Australia following several years living in Singapore and Malaysia.

By staging this marked temporal gap of 20 years between the two groupings, Nichols invites us to focus on how paintings extend beyond the specific contexts of individual works. He is interested in a painting’s painterly character and its passage in time. It is the aspects of painting that leap across the gaps between individual works that Nichols suggests are internal to painting and key to how it operates.

Jonathan Nichols, Girl Sitting, 2002, oil on linen, 75 x 45 cm. Private collection, Sydney.

Jonathan Nichols
Jonathan Nichols is an artist and curator born and raised in Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country/Canberra. He is based in Naarm/Melbourne and Dja Dja Wurrung Country/Bendigo. Nichols began painting in the early 1990s after studying sculpture at the ANU and the University of NSW. In 2023, he completed a PhD at the VCA, University of Melbourne.

Early in his career, Nichols co-founded artist-run galleries Stripp (1996–98), Lovers (1998–99 and 2014) and The Green Door (2005). Curatorial projects include Feeling machines (Stripp, 1997), Mac (Centre for Contemporary Photography, 2009) and Learning to leave (VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery, 2014). Nichols has been invited to curate an exhibition of international contemporary painters at PICA, Perth, in 2025. Over a period of 12 months in 2012–13, he was artist-in-residence at Rimbun Dahan, Kuala Lumpur, and for 6 years until the end of 2019, he lived and worked in Singapore.

In 2022, Nichols published a book of interviews titled Walking with ghosts: six conversations about painting — John Spiteri, Boedi Widjaja, Christoph Preussmann, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Moya McKenna and David Jolly. The book follows Nichols’s biographical pathway through the art world since the 1990s and pursues long-held artist friendships to explore a 'horizontal culture' of painting.

Jonathan Nichols has participated in group exhibitions in Australia at the NGV, ACCA, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, National Portrait Gallery, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Karen Woodbury Gallery, Geelong Gallery and Bendigo Art Gallery, among others. He has held solo exhibitions in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

Public Programs
Free public programs, including an artist talk, will be presented in the gallery throughout this exhibition. All details will be shared on our website. Click here to subscribe to our mailing list to receive special updates and invitations.

Womindjika Woorineen willam bit
Willam Dja Dja Wurrung Balug
Wokuk mung gole-bo-turoi
talkoop mooroopook

Welcome to our homeland,
home of the Dja Dja Wurrung people
we offer you people good spirit.
Uncle Rick Nelson

The Jaara people of the Dja Dja Wurrung are the Custodians of the land and waters on which we live and work. We pay our respects to the Elders past, present and emerging. We extend these same sentiments to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations peoples.

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