Hyperrealism is painting and sculptures answer to photography. Similar to photorealism, the realm of hyperrealism often contains a focused investigation on the subject, presenting it as more tangible and living. On first seeing Lara Nickel’s hyperreal paintings I was intrigued, not only by the impressive technical ability that she showcases through her method, but also by her ability to cross pollinate the hyperreal style with a conversation about paintings illusionistic fallacies.
Lara Nickel is a graduate from Santa Fe University of Art and Design, one of our partnering universities. I came across her work on the SFUAD website that featured her life-sized portraits of zebras and wolves. Her work, situated on the floor, intrigued me in it’s blatancy of declaring that this was a painting, and nothing more. The plants above are from Nickels most recent body of work and these too declare the same. Cut out from the natural desert environment, and placed instead on a stark gallery-white background, her paintings speak more to the subject of painting as object than painting as illusion. This is where it’s interesting though, as the subjects and their super-real renderings are all about illusion. But here Nickel flips illusion on it’s head through the way the work interacts with the space. More installation than hanging, the placement of canvases resting on the floor or projecting out from the wall talk honestly to the structure of the grounds on which she works and clearly remove the concept of the painting as a window. It all adds up for a wonderfully confusing conversation that perfectly talks to the heritage of what painting was – illusion, and what painting is now is – object.
Apart from creating an interesting discussion, I’m also a total fan of the aesthetic. The bold, lush greens against this modern white make for some stunning imagery, and although she’d probably hate to hear me say it, would look great propped up against a wall of my imaginary studio apartment.
Lara Nickel is represented by Ernesto Mayans Gallery and Nedra Matteucci Galleries in Santa Fe and seems to exhibit regularly. Look out for her installations if you’re in the area, or click here to discover more of her life size work.