From the gallery:
Tayloe Piggott Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of select sculptures, charcoal drawings, and prints by British artist Nicola Hicks. Due to her unique artistic style and her contribution to the visual arts, Hicks was appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Her passion is to illustrate the human-like emotions of animals as well as the beast-like qualities of man. Showcasing artworks from 2005 to 2018, this retrospective exhibition offers a comprehensive look into Nicola Hicks’s expansive body of work.
A remarkable artist, Nicola Hicks is fascinated by reinventing animal figures with bold intention as a means of cathartic play. She is driven by her pure, raw emotional connection to her artworks and instills her love for the craft in each piece. She “loves the magical feeling of having something evolve at [her] fingertips, that [she] is making something live that hasn’t lived before.”
Depicting both realistic and mythical animals with extraordinary vividness that transcends mere visual fact, Hicks captures the spiritual power of beings. Bears, deer, moose, dogs, or a mythic Minotaur, all of Hicks’s art is rooted in the study of anatomy and observations of life. She asserts her art has nothing to do with reality but rather with evoking a strong visceral response. She is uninterested in her work appearing as a particular animal; instead she wants the figure to be that animal.
Throwing herself into each creation, Hicks works quickly in an unselfconscious way that allows her to produce a vibrant animation. She uses unconventional materials that mirror the speed of her work. Quickly tearing off craft paper in large sheets, she uses charcoal, chalk, and pastel to draw the creature bursting through her imagination. “Red Bullock” (above) exemplifies the nature of Hicks’s work. As she gesturally draws the form of the bullock, she is acutely aware of when she feels the body of the animal is complete. It is at that moment that she moves on to bring out the spirit of the animal in its facial features. In Red Bullock, the animal’s feet are left unfinished, as they are not crucial to the essence of the animal.
In order to realize her creations, Hicks needs her materials to be adaptable. The moment a work feels “terribly finished and a bit dead” Hicks throws it away and starts again from the beginning. She designs her three-dimensional work in a similar nature through a unique sculpting process that involves plaster, mud, and straw. There is straw strewn about Hicks’s studio, which she continually gathers and mixes with plaster in order to quickly erect a figure.
Due to the delicate nature of her organic materials, Hicks ensures the permanency of her artworks through the meticulous process of casting them into bronze. Her sculptures are deeply influenced by Auguste Rodin, who described sculpture as “drawing with light.” Hicks strives to bring out this light within her figures. Her creatures reveal the mortality in each animal. “Grey” (above), a center sculpture in this exhibition, is an ideal illustration of this vivacity. The wolf feels alive. You can see the fire in his eyes and feel his soul. This sensation is emblematic of all of Nicola Hicks’s artworks.
This exhibition will be on view through August 18, 2018, at Tayloe Piggott Gallery (Jackson, Wyoming).