SKYE NICOLAS 1974 born in Manila, lives and works in New York (NY), USA
Ranging from large format paintings, gigantic video projection installations, and stylishly fashioned collectible sculpture pieces, Skye Nicolas blends socio-political commentary with elegant compositions of vivid imagery through various means of well executed appropriation, seamless word play and witty pop culture conversation, exploring the fundamentally potent contemporary tactics of 21st century advertising.
The core of his work defines and pinpoints the pulse of a living transmedia consciousness: a fully plugged-in social network culture that engorges itself on mass produced imagery and information, taking corporate branding and mass consumption to an entire new level as an acceptable and inevitable way of life.
Portraiture & Fashion Photography are art forms thematically known to celebrate idealized beauty, romanticism, human sexuality, and the female figure. The provocative power of Nicolas' large-scale portraits of stunning faces lie in his 'up-close and personal' approach to capturing the elusive underlying sensuality and sublime eroticism within his chosen subjects.
The closely cropped figures in his paintings spread throughout the planes of a large canvas resemble the aloof attitude and composition of high fashion editorial spreads, ad campaign layouts, and modeling agency polaroids. These blown up images of beautiful women confront the viewer as if the subjects themselves were looking into a mirror; projecting a reflection of unapologetic narcissism, while at the same time revealing a vulnerable and endearing youthful innocence. Nicolas makes good use of such ironic sincerity characteristic of the fashion world's power to influence how beauty is perceived and consumed by a shallow media-saturated society. His signature brown ground peeping through finely diluted layers of thin paint provides a blanket of warmth; mimicking skin tone, and adding dimension to the otherwise flat application of a monochromatic palette. The intensity of Nicolas' expressive lines are most evident in his large oil and crayon drawings on wall size sheets of brown paper, demonstrating his ability to conjure both emotion and mood with confident strokes that create a majestic image of intimidating size.
The Mortelle Series an ongoing collaboration between the artist and Marlon Richards (son of rock legend Keith Richards) explores the unconventional possibilities of how beauty can be captured even in death. Presented in several 'acts', featuring femme fatales posed as characters in a fictitious murder scene. Inspired by classic black and white film noir of the early 1940s and 1950s, this most curious series plays upon the basic aesthetics of the genre: emphasizing moral ambiguity and sexual motivation.
Radically using playing card symbols (numbers, characters, and suits) is one of Skye Nicolas' highly distinctive trademarks which has become iconographic, easily identifiable, and uniquely synonymous to his work. First introduced in his series of paintings entitled Twenty One, Nicolas devised a simple yet effective method which enabled him to easily satirize, appropriate, and claim any given image or work by simply marking the upper left corner of the picture plane with a number or character accompanied by a suit, characteristic of an ordinary playing card. The simplistic approach and potency of using this type of symbolism not only displays Nicolas' ingenious ability to playfully test the boundaries of appropriation art, but also paved way for numerous works derived from this groundbreaking technique.
Disintegration also referred to as "The White Paintings", is a series that opened his investigations to what Nicolas refers to as Reverse Appropriation, which he simply describes as - "The reclamation of negative space".
Appropriating the alluring images of fashion model composite cards by means of commercial photo reproduction, a most common process used to generate fashion retail advertisements, he enlarges these tantalizing images to a size which not only intensifies the visual impact of the original photos, but also clearly illustrates the potency of sexuality in its usage as the main ingredient in post-modern advertising: where presentation takes precedence over substance.
Using layered washes of white paint and tedious digital manipulation, he intentionally eliminates these appropriated images from the picture field. The gradual reduction of sharpness and detail produces a dramatic effect, engulfing the stunning victims with creeping dissipation, as if the images were slowly vanishing before the viewer's eyes like fading frescoes of a once majestic facade. The achromatic areas are treated with a minimalistic approach, echoing techniques typical of abstract expressionism. The series introduces an austere approach to painting by Nicolas, which unifies the use of commercial reproduction with modern art's more-traditional methods that beautifully captures the poignant ambivalence felt in an era of social decline. It exaggerates an impassable truth that the acceleration of technology and its irresponsible use will ironically and systematically eradicate anything in its path.
The OMG series indubitably reveals artist Skye Nicolas' genius in articulating the complexity of discussing multiple capacious topics almost effortlessly through the brevity of his approach towards presentation. The series boldly investigates the curious parallels between religious iconography and modern day corporate branding; both subjects subsume striking similarities in practice and seem to share the same basic principles of marketing to promote a given single entity. The effectiveness of these methodical practices manifests the phenomena of devotion, worship, and even to an extent extreme fanaticism; systematically observed as the result of a formidable and successful campaign.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these elements intended to identify the goods and services of a seller or group of sellers, and to differentiate them from other sellers. Furthermore, the AMA concurs that it is crucial to understand that branding is not about a target market choosing a specific brand over its competitor, but it is simply about getting prospect buyers to see the proposed product as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
Nicolas' appropriation of Adolf Hyla's the Divine Mercy (1944), demonstrates the act of appropriation as an integral part of each piece in the series, signifying it's undeniable popularity as a result of the countless reproduction of this most recognizable image of Christ in contemporary society. Through the appropriation process, not only does Nicolas bring forth the fascinating concept of Christ as a valid example of perhaps the most powerful and successful brand in all of history, one that has survived and thrived through centuries of social change, but he also clearly illustrates the commodification of an otherwise sacred image. This informative demonstration of transformation shows us how a modern free market economy can reduce even the most holy of figures into an easily available product. Even so, the power of the brand continues to communicate its message with all its identity intact, proving the sheer force encapsulated in what could be the quintessentially perfect brand model.
The letters OMG an acronym for "Oh my God!", or its variation "oh my gosh", was originally popularized with the use of shorthand text communication between teenagers and young adults; it is now considered to be one of the most used colloquial expressions not limited to online conversation and mobile phone texting, but has also been adopted as an acceptable figure of speech in the English language. Often used an intensifier to express various emotional responses could also be said of how branding works on a deep emotional level. The elegantly stylized typography juxtaposed with Christ's image almost immediately captures our attention just as would a carefully designed ad campaign for luxury goods.
This ironic use of word play is descriptive of Nicolas' series Sinatra Howls From The Underground (2009), which explores the fundamental yet potent tactics of 21st century advertising; cleverly juxtaposing carefully chosen images with bold billboard-type advertising slogans, resulting in a handsome collection of works that poignantly captures the mood of a dispirited consumerist generation bound by the trappings of materialism in a failing world economy. 'Still Life Kills' (2009) is an homage to Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du monde, and a nod to Marcel Duchamp's brilliance and triumph in redefining modern contemporary art.
Skye Nicolas has shown in New York City, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Southeast Asia. His exhibitions have been attended and supported by Philly Adams of the Saatchi Gallery of London, art mogul Jay Jopling, and legendary British curator Sir Norman Rosenthal.