Jonny Niesche

Incandescent, neon-hued minimalism.

artist Jonny Niesche leans on a desk in his studio
books on a desk in the artist's Jonny Niesche studio - close up shot
artist Jonny Niesche stands by a wall in his studio
5 images

Jonny Niesche was born in 1972 and currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia.

Career

The artist originally pursued a career in experimental music in New York, only discovering his passion for art upon his return to Australia before enrolling as a Visual Arts student at Sydney University.

Collections

His work is featured in collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Museum of Old and New Art; Hobart and Artbank, Australia.

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Practice overview

Niesche reduces painting and sculpture to their most fundamental forms: colour, light, and perception. His abstract compositions ooze from the centre outwards in swathes of carefully rendered pastel hues that melt into one another. With symmetrical rectangular forms, the works are evocative of minimalist greats such as Anne Truitt and Donald Judd. Instead of seeing his works as painting or sculpture, Niesche sees them as ‘image-objects,’ shifting between the two disciplines. The artist uses a variety of techniques and materials including metal stretchers, voile, digital colour selection, and dye sublimation - a process that uses heat to transfer dye. Neither opaque nor see-through, the objects change depending on the position of the viewer, and the source of light. This makes the works appear as if they float and pulsate, changing them from fixed images to dynamic events.

Niesche’s work draws from his youth, make-up and 70s glam rock. As a young boy expected to assimilate to the laddish culture of 70s Australia, Niesche would join his mother on trips to the cosmetic store, where the enticing sights and smells conjured a guilty excitement. In Picture This, a solo exhibition at Station Gallery in Melbourne in 2016, Niesche presented a body of work with a colour palette entirely constructed from the eyeshadow of 70s icon, Debbie Harry. Within the exhibition was a free-standing, rectangular monolith with thick, mirrored edges that faded from shades of purple, to pink, and muted browns around the edges. The subtle changes in gradients juxtaposed against their brash subject, Debbie Harry, encapsulate a sensitive tribute to kitsch, camp, and feminine strength – a quiet 'thank you' from son to mother.

Niesche is an artist who is excited about art. Unabashed by comparison, he lists a reel of names from whom he takes inspiration, including his university tutor Heimo Sobering, contemporary artist Isa Genzken, and, of course, king of glam rock, David Bowie. While his aesthetic is incredibly streamlined, his daily practice operates within very open perimeters, working in a communal studio based on an ethos of sharing equipment and offering supportive critique. He has also worked in collaboration with artists such as Stella Rosa McDonald, author of Blonde (2016), a jauntily poetic text written for Picture This; and Brendan Van Hek, with whom he made but still I wait (2018), an installation for the Sarah Cottier Gallery. A homage to his heroes, contemporaries, popular culture, and personal experience, Niesche’s work purifies a wealth of influences into a rich simplicity that brings elegant, refined glamour to gallery walls.

"I always try to push the boundaries of taste.”Jonny Niesche