The Search For A Superior Moral Justification For Selfishness
1 February - 4 March 2017
TJ Boulting is delighted to present the gallery’s first solo show with Nick Waplington. For the past three decades he has forged his career primarily as a photographer, and was the first living British artist to have a solo photography show at the Tate in 2015. Yet in recent years he has steadily dedicated a large part of his practice to painting and drawing. He first began painting in 1995, and it developed in 2007 whilst he was completing a long-term photography project in Israel. After taking photographs outside all day, he found he had time and a favourable environment for painting. In contrast to his photographs, which were outward looking, the paintings were abstract and coming more from his internal state of mind as a reaction to the contemporary world around him. His influences have always stemmed from many things: his surroundings, online porn, the Internet, music, political chaos and the contradictions of everyday life. They are all very much of the present, the here and now. As he says: “I am seeking and searching constantly. People ask me what I find interesting, and the answer is everything.”
Then followed long periods living and working in Los Angeles and New York; in particular spending hours painting in his outside studio in LA, making the most of the long, light, sun-filled days, and on the roof of his studio back in London in the summer. Absorbing the positive nature of the light informed his attitude towards a seemingly negative world. The paintings in this exhibition were all completed between 2016 and the present day, primarily in LA and some in London, and are all acrylic on canvas, 4 x 6 feet in dimension. There is also a wall of works on paper taken directly from his A3 sketchpad and pinned to the wall. For now and for this particular body of work it is very much about the psycho geography of LA, the streets, the chaos, the light and the social contrasts and conflicts. The titles manifest themselves from his own late night sketches and mental meanderings, infused with literary snippets from authors such as Beckett, Goethe and Milan Kundera.
An intensely prolific artist, he continues to take photographs, produce books, make sketchbooks full of words and drawings,
whilst his painting takes a slow trajectory. Although not immediately or literally related, all of his works somehow inform each other, and his paintings in particular, where each one will lead him to the next one in a constantly evolving cycle. He is curious about mixing the high with the low and what that says about society. He juxtaposed his photographs of the fashion world with those of rubbish dumps in his Alexander McQueen Tate show ‘Working Progress’; his way of commenting on the chaos and physical materials of both. In his project ‘The Patriarch’s Wardrobe’, soon to be displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery as part of David Campany’s exhibition ‘A Handful of Dust’, he juxtaposed his photographs of rubbish dumps in the occupied West Bank, scavenged by Palestinian children, with his paintings of the region, inspired by its colour palette. He succinctly describes the difference between the two mediums and what unites them: “My paintings deal with this inner world, whereas my photographic work deals with the world around me,” says Waplington, “I guess the basic difference is with photography the canvas is full and with painting it’s empty. Both give me problems.” Underlying all of this activity is his constant curiosity with the world around him and the feeling that to observe his work, in whatever medium, is to observe an artist always one step ahead of the game, leaving us to ask what is he doing now, and where is this leading? Only time will tell.
Nick Waplington studied at Nottingham University for his BA in Fine Art in 1988 before completing his MA with Distinction at the Royal College of Art in 1990. He received an ICP Infinity award in 1993, and was in the Harold Szeemann curated group exhibition in the Arsenale of Venice Biennale in 2001. He has exhibited widely including a solo show at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (Double Dactyl, 2007), and The Philadelphia Museum of Art (Living Room, 1992). His work is held in a number of prominent museum collections including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and MoMA, New York. He has had two recent solo shows of his paintings in LA. He is the author of over twenty publications including Living Room, 1991, Other Edens, 1993, Terry Painter L’artiste, 2003, Settlement, 2014 and three with Trolley Books Learn How To Die The Easy Way, 2002, You Love Life, 2005 and Double Dactyl, 2007. His work has been most recently exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; his next group show A Handful of Dust curated by David Campany will be at the Whitechapel Gallery from 7 June – 3 September 2017. He lives and works in Los Angeles and New York and is temporarily based in London.