Nicholas Szymanski is a 27 year old painter living and working in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I have had a reductive progression throughout my career, which has led me to the more simplified paintings that I am currently making. Fundamentally what I am interested in is investigating color field and process oriented painting. Objectively I focus on color, surface, light, and scale, things that lack a narrative. I got to this point by studying and developing an excitement toward things like 16th century Japanese pottery and revisiting books from my childhood such as The Jabberwocky. I tend to delight in seemingly aimless things; the doing is the best part for me, existing within questions through material investigation and exploration. The term ‘Negative Capability’ has meant a lot to me. For Keats it was a way of describing an arrival to uncertainty and doubt and affirming that as a state of comprehension. There is knowing in not knowing, sense in nonsense. I like this quality and want to provide it with a place; the paintings are in an endless state of becoming.
Sometimes I start in reference to a drawing or drawings, mixing a specific color, applying it and observing it alone or in relation to other works. A long duration of time is spent moving paint with different brushes, rollers, and tools. I usually end up sanding down the surface and working on it a few more times. I don’t have a terribly precious disposition toward the paintings until they are finished; redaction is most often part of the process. Sometimes I arrive at a desirable quality very quickly, other times it appears over a long duration of deliberate experimentation, successes and failures. One of the most enjoyable but also challenging parts of my work is sitting and seeing it. When I can observe a painting and not will it to be any other way, then I know I have something substantial and perhaps finished.
A current project I have in the works is a suite of 10 paintings in relation to images I’ve related to Dante’s trip through the inferno. It is coming together slowly but has had resonance thus far. So the question is whether non-objective paintings can exist on the plane of fiction and poetry, or at least flirt with them. I think this came about from observing opposite things and the space between them. So the liminal space involved in the paintings is the distortion between something symbolic and how it also exists as such, unadulterated by language.
” Art is difference. The opportunity to experience the space between a cursory glance and actually seeing perhaps even knowing something. “
Photographs and text courtesy of the artist.