Jonny Niesche

Jonny Niesche’s hypnotic minimalism imbues abstract colour with the glitz of 70s glam rock.

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.

Select Achievements
  • 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
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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.

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"I attempt to make work that emphasizes illusion as much as it emphasizes its objecthood"
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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. 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 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.

 

"I do not necessarily visualize my past but a ‘feeling’ associated with a time or event"

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.

 

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Jonny Niesche