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Nikolas Gambaroff

Nikolas Gambaroff

There's already quite a buzz surrounding German-born (1979) New York-based Nikolas Gambaroff, whose practice sets out to interrogate the very premises of painting.

As Gambaroff himself puts it, "In my work I try to dissect, deconstruct, and re-evaluate (mainly within the limits of the activity painting) the customs, expectations and myths that painting as part of our visual culture brings along."

Works that ostensibly echo the age-old impetus of subjective self-expression are, therefore, conceived as platforms through which to question notions of authorship, distribution and exposition alongside issues such as the social and economic value of art itself.

Emerging artists; Nikolas Gambaroff

In addition, Gambaroff's "staging of the space that a viewer experiences painting in" is designed less to highlight interplay amongst the works themselves, than focus particularly on "the problems of support structures in art (material/architectural but also ideological)."

The introduction of elements from 'outside' the traditional compass of painting provides further opportunities to deconsecrate and demystify painterly production in order to debate the mechanisms that confer artistic status.

In a recent show, for example, the energetic presence of playful kittens transformed the works on display into an ersatz jungle gym (below left); a startling remove from the white gloved, no touching stance usually operative in galleries.

Artistic collaboration, performance or even the newspapers forming the basis of a recent series (top) equally serve to rupture the self-containment associated with the painted image.

Nikolas Gambaroff

At a juncture in contemporary painting when theoretical discourse is stealthily becoming integral to its production, it remains to be seen just how well Gambaroff's work can hold its own against a proliferation of similar enquiry.

Currently, however, Gambaroff's growing status reflects his centrality to an important tendency: a new realism in art that strives to reflect the overlooked realities of art itself.


December 2010


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