The hypnotic fizz of Jonny Niesche’s work is a sharp and tender celebration of colour, minimalism, and the alluring glitz of 70s glam rock.
Niesche reduces painting and sculpture to their most fundamental forms: colour, light, and perception. Seamlessly shifting between the wall and the plinth, Niesche’s ‘image-objects’ ooze from the centre outwards in vast swathes of carefully rendered pastel hues that melt into one another. Contained by their slick rectangular compositions, the works are evocative of minimalist greats such as Anne Truitt and Donald Judd. Niesche uses a variety of techniques and materials including metal stretchers, the transparent fabric voile, digital colour selection and dye sublimation – a process that uses heat to transfer dye.
- Work in collection inc. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart Artbank, Australia
- Vivid Festival, MCA Façade Commission, in collaboration with Mark Pritchard and Spinifex, 2018
- Work in collections inc. National Gallery of Victoria, MONA (Tasmania), Artbank
- Solo show, Jonny Niesche - Floating Over Lovers In Clouds of Signs, at Lundgren Gallery, Palma de Mallorca, 2019
- Solo show, Throb at Zeller Van Almsick, Vienna, 2018
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 through timeless and exquisite simplicity.
Niesche’s work carries a loving appreciation of make-up and the 70s glam rock culture that was prevalent during his youth. 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 lustrous shimmer and enticing smells of perfume conjured a guilty excitement. Picture This, an exhibition at Station Gallery in Melbourne in 2016, presented a body of work with a colour palette entirely constructed from the eyeshadow of 70s icon, Debbie Harry. Free-standing in the exhibition was a 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 are both vibrant and tender, with a delicacy that contrasts the brashness of Debbie Harry’s public persona. The gentle warmth and shrewd attention to detail offer a bold and 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 the late popular icon, David Bowie. While his aesthetic output is incredibly streamlined, his daily practice operates within very open perimeters, working in a communal studio based on an ethos of sharing and offering supportive critique. He has also worked in collaboration with artists such as Stella Rosa McDonald, author of Blonde, a jauntily poetic text written for Picture This, and Brendan Van Hek, with whom he made but still I wait, an installation for the Sarah Cottier Gallery in 2018. 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.
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