Headstands and Graham Nickson

Graham Nickson, “Upside-down Bather” (1979-82), acrylic on canvas, 125 x 126 inches

Jennifer Samet interviewed Graham Nickson for her column Beer with a Painter. They talk about history painting, geometry, and how experiences slowly unfold into his work. Samet asked Nickson about the prevalence of the headstand pose in his work, he replied
Coming across a figure standing on her head was a very vivid experience. I was not only coming out of threatening fog into sunlight, but I also was seeing this strange image. It was even more unlikely at the time, because yoga activity was not as popular then as it is now. It was if as if the upside down world had more weight and was more real.I am constantly scanning and tracking the experiences that I am thrown into. I am cautious that I am not misreading the experience, so I have all sorts of tests. If I see something that captures my imagination, I might draw it from memory for quite some time or make doodles when I’m on the phone or about to go to bed, to see whether the image comes back to me. If it holds in my head for six months, or a year, or a couple years, then it might hold in someone else’s head.

Graham Nickson, “Uluru, Australia” (2003), watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches
(all photographs courtesy the artist)

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