When viewing Davis Nicholson’s work, one repeatedly has the impression that this artist loves extremes. The artist has engaged himself in his most recent drawings on the one hand with menace, combat and destruction. Nicholson’s scenes of people and animals in charcoal and pencil prophesy murder and death and depict brutal violence and torture. These are explosive political issues, yet Nicholson’s large drawings are not testimonials of daily political events. Nicholson’s images are in fact scenes of extreme human behaviour, which proves be abhorrent and deadly. On the other hand, Nicholson’s work contains erotic imagery that seeks to provoke. For him the naked body (in particular the female body) is an endlessly inspiring and challenging motif. Provocative and confrontational poses display a narcissistic, female self-assurance, which intends to allure and seduce. Galerie Michael Haas juxtaposes these images with works by Otto Dix, which Nicholson not only knows and highly regards, but in which he also sees many analogies and parallels to his own position.
In 1924, Otto Dix created five portfolios with etchings on the subject “war”, in addition to numerous drawings and paintings within this subject area and reaching far beyond. They provided an artistic voice for the inhuman conditions of the First World War, in particular its aftermath and victims. Dix’s images of women delineate the physical as provocation. For him the female physique is fat and lascivious, scrupulous and suffering or worn out and neglected. Dix’s participation in the First World War made him (as well as many other artists in Germany) a victim and an opponent of the war. David Nicholson is a Canadian who lives in Berlin and the USA. He has never come into direct con-tact with war. However, he is an artist and human being interested in the political events of his time, in grievances. and war crimes. He reflects this position in his art. He re-fers to things that personally concern and move him with-out accusing or celebrating. He looks around, he ascertains and presents – to the point of shock or provocation – what is.
Nicholson’s art requires an enlightened and liberal public. Yet his topics are as old as human culture.Nicholson has found his own language for them, his way of expatiating on the nature of man. An idiosyncratic and sometimes disturbing language. It exists between these two extremes: frozen to death or lusting for life. A principle of human existence. That which has remained unchanged from then until the present day is our common search for immortality. And that is actually what concerns David Nicholson.
(Text: Dr. Erika Költzsch)