Hi, I'm Nolan. Although I look fairly normal, my family thinks I've gone completely insane. You see, I used to be a successful wildlife artist. Then one day something happened. To my family's chagrin, I left unfinished a painting of a pack of wolves and instead unveiled a painting of a cinder block wall. No, it was not a psychotic break. I had an epiphany. Here's what happened:
I had recently finished a large painting of a peacock. It was my masterpiece, and everyone loved it and wanted me to leave it for them in my will. But in the back of my mind I thought, "Of course it's beautiful. When your subject is a peacock, you're going to end up with a beautiful painting." One afternoon, after a long day of painting, I sat in my basement studio, sipping a cocktail. I stared at the old, paint splattered cinder block walls and suddenly thought, "Those walls are amazing. What if I did a painting of a concrete block wall?" A concept was born.
It took six months of experimenting to produce a realistic wall, inventing techniques along the way. I had always painted on Belgian linen, but the weave of the canvas compromised the illusion of cement. In desperation, I tried a piece of silk. Voila, I had found my medium. But how do I justify such an unusual point of view?
I believe art should be unexpected. It should surprise you and challenge you in some way. It should transform your awareness and definition of beauty.
A Campbell's soup can was never considered art worthy until Andy Warhol's unique vision made it so. Lichtenstein discovered the overlooked importance of comics and elevated them into a high art form. Pollock found beauty in paint inadvertently splattered on his studio floor. For ages, artists before him had spilled paint, but only Pollock saw in it something special. Because of Pollock, I am fascinated with what is at my feet, the unintended abstractions that nobody sees. Because of Warhol, I learned that something as banal as a soup can (or a cinder block) can achieve eminence if painted with respect and presented in an elegant manner. And Lichtenstein taught me that any subject can transcend it origins and be considered museum worthy.
I decided to champion the overlooked, the invisible, the unnoticed. I am training myself to discover the extraordinary qualities in things that most people find ordinary. This greatly enhances my appreciation of the world around me. Unintended masterpieces passed by every day, never noticed. It's easy to enjoy the beauty of a flower, a peacock, or a sunset. Yes. But imagine if you found beauty in almost everything around you. The challenge is to train ones visual perception to discover the beauty in a dirty sidewalk, the weathered side of a rusted train, or the uncommon allure of a cinder block wall.
My chosen muse is a mundane, disregarded object largely devoid of color and ubiquitous to the point of being invisible, an object we walk by every day with barely a glance. I paint portraits of concrete blocks and cinder block walls. I acknowledge their flaws and celebrate their imperfections, for therein lies their beauty. They entice you to fall in love with the pits and scratches and ill-applied mortar and to experience the surprise of being engaged by a chunk of cement. My paintings succeed if one day you pause on the street and say, "Now THAT is a beautiful wall." This represents a subtle aesthetic shift and is the goal of my work.
Cement blocks exude strength, character, and personality, and they provide me with the ideal vehicle to tell my story. Can I elevate this humble building material into artwork that you find compelling or beautiful? That is my artistic ambition. I am addicted to walls and seduced by cement. My working premise is that works of art need not depict exquisite objects or dazzling scenes to be beautiful. If it is honest, artwork can be raw, minimal, and visceral. Not merely impeccably rendered, no. Not simply painted in bold colors to make a loud statement. And not necessarily conceived on a monumental scale. To be successful and powerful, to be important, artwork must create a sense of wonder and change our way of thinking.
I am the only artist in the world who specializes in paintings of concrete blocks and cinder block walls. I offer you my singular vision in the hopes that you are as open-minded as the first collectors who took a chance on a Warhol soup can, a Lichtenstein cartoon, or a Pollock drip-pour. I hope you trust your instincts enough to embrace my unusual aesthetic. I want you to look at a painting of cement and say, "WOW!"
The painting, "Society," was conceived after reading a definition of "society"-- a collection of similar, but unique, individuals that come together for a common purpose. While all the cinder blocks are similar, no two are the same. Each has a slightly different surface, color, and personality. And they come together for a common purpose.