• New show 'Undercurrent' at Utopia Art Sydney 1 June until 29 June, 2024
  • "Some artists are pitifully exposed by a survey or retrospective... Nivison, however, is a painter who seems to grow in stature when the work of two decades is brought together in one place." John McDonald, Sydney Morning Herald
  • If you are interested in acquiring a work by Angus please contact Utopia Art Sydney
"Some artists are pitifully exposed by a survey or retrospective... Nivison, however, is a painter who seems to grow in stature when the work of two decades is brought together in one place."

John McDonald, Sydney Morning Herald
2024 undercurrent

A solo exhibition of Angus Nivison’s most recent canvases and works on paper, continues the artist’s subtle exploration of preoccupations around weather and humanity and takes us somewhere new. Circles first appeared in a suite of small drawings Nivison made during an AGNSW studio residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris in the winter of 2011. At the time he was reading IQ84 and novelist Haruki Murakami’s two moons found their way into his work. Over the intervening years circles have occasionally appeared as luminous presences. In these 2023-24 paintings, the circle has become planetary.

Diptychs titled Without, Adrift, Venture and Prelude hold circles that float, strangely serene, within dynamic fields of layered colour. There’s dizzying depth in some of these paintings; the longer the gaze lingers, the greater the saturation and variation of colour and tone. The circular shapes or “orbs” as the artist calls them - large or small, veiled, compressed or ballooned – provide anchors for the eye. Going further, in these recent works, perhaps like Yayoi Kusama’s dots, Nivison’s orbs have become quantum. At the most microscopic level matter is composed of particles; at the end of everything (as physicist Carlo Rovelli writes in his latest book White Holes) space is granular.

Nivison’s practice is grounded in abstraction – the Modernist grid, Colour Field painting – and landscape lies at its heart. He lives on a high plateau in the Northern Tablelands of NSW, grazier country, where drought, bushfires, heatwaves, wind, electrical storms and wild hail are immediate, visceral concerns. The artist approaches global warming and climate change from an oblique angle but with profound insistence. Undercurrent and Methane are sinister rainbows. Can we take care of our planet? Where will we be next century, will we even “be”? Like the late great American artist Mark Rothko, Nivison’s concerns are existential.

In the end, he leaves us with Hope, arguably the major work in the exhibition, where orbs float through gaseous layers of delicate pigment. He also leaves us with beauty - the vivid red of a dying sun, the indigo of a deep pool or a clear night sky. Look. Look beyond the surface, Nivison seems to say. This is where we live. There is nothing else and everything else here.

Susie Burge, Arts Writer.
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Above: 'Undercurrent', 2023, acrylic & pigments on polyester cotton, 188.5 x 168cm
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Above: 'Hope', 2024, acrylic & pigments on polyester cotton, 188.5 x 168.5cm each (overall 188.5 x 337cm)
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Angus Nivison is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, his good humour and easy going demeanour make him an artist with a lot of friends and plenty of loyal supporters.

But his work is far from easy going. It's often very demanding and dark revealing the deeper side of the artist that comes out in the studio.

Much is made of Angus’ links with the land and there is no doubt that his first hand experiences with elemental forces have had a big influence. Drought, rain, or lack of, bushfires, wild winds, dramatic scenery, glorious sunsets, the reflection of the moon in a dam are all only too real, the grandeur and the beauty, the cruelty and destruction.

This is his lived experience and, while his paintings and drawings have the look of this world, it is in his titles that you see humanity is his real subject, the brilliance and stupidity, the pain and the ecstacy, life and death.

Christopher Hodges, Director, Utopia Art Sydney
About Angus Nivison:

Angus Nivison is inspired by the natural surroundings of his property in the northern tablelands of NSW. Through his paintings he explores landscape, memory and the human condition.

Angus was born in the New England area at Walcha where he grew up. Walcha is cold, hard country. Nivison has lived on a working property in Walcha his whole life, knowing everyone around him, witnessing the cycles of life and death.

“The most recent Nivison works include trademark brooding blacks, darker groups of colours that reflect recent effects of climate change plus what he’s seen around him and what he’s felt from the wider, more challenged world.

“Amongst the blacks and greys, are splashes of bright open colour. His brushwork is sweeping, the hand is clear, the mark making expressive, and he is in control. These are paintings of what has been and the premonition of what may come.

“There are also tantalising pink paintings, where a sun shines with a beacon of hope, and a romantic vision only adds to the deep forces that now run through Nivison’s work.

“This Australia is not of gum trees but of an ancient landscape full of magic and secrets and dark power that only Angus Nivison can make us feel and see.

”Angus Nivison has been an important part of Australian art since the 70s and his impressive debut with Anne Lewis’ famously influential Galley A.

Angus Nivison won the Wynne Prize in 2002. His work is part of most major Australian museum and private collections; he’s been represented by leading contemporary galleries; Gallery A, Bloomfield, Coventry Gallery, BBA and Utopia Art Sydney: had 30 solo and 116 group shows; and is a multi-year finalist for both Wynne and Archibald prizes.

Click here for more information about "Angus Nivison - A Survey" curated by Sandra McMahon, Director of Tamworth Regional Gallery. This show opened at The Tamworth Regional Gallery 16 June, 2012 and concluded at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney in February 2013. Read reviews of the Survey Show and view catalogue.
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Above: Angus Nivison in his studio painting ‘Star Turn’, 2016, image courtesy of Utopia Art Sydney. Painting details: Angus Nivison, Star Turn, 2016, acrylic spray paint and pigment on poly/cotton, 188 x 504 cm.