Dark Matter: Paintings by Kenneth Nicholson

Kenneth Nicholson’s narrative paintings depict extreme melodrama and disrupt traditional figure/background interplay, releasing the character’s inner drama into the negative space.

“There is a particular way that a shadow smacks against the wall behind two people eagerly avoiding eye contact. As one slips out of awareness, the weight of the room takes their place,” Nicholson said. “My paintings and drawings depict individuals in various stages of flux, and how they relate to their environment. My commitment to depicting supreme melodrama, along with an uncompromising will to sour, leads to imagery both viscerally familiar and unsettling.”

Barbara Jones, Chief Curator, said, “Having observed his work over the years, I have been particularly drawn to Ken’s use of perspective and paint handling. He carries the emotional content of the subject matter with his impasto application, scraping away, and rebuilding areas of paint that reveal the strong hand of the artist and his thought process. He captures a person’s identity in some of his subjects while obliterates it in others, inserting a sense of mystery into the composition.”

Jones added, “As we programmed this gallery together, Director of Education and Visitor Engagement Joan McGarry and I both felt that Ken’s work would be a compelling complement to the figurative sculpture in the exhibition A Timeless Perfection on view in the Cantilever Gallery [through December 31], giving our visitors a contemporary artist’s approach to the human form in an entirely different medium.”

Nicholson received his Associates of Fine Art degree from the Westmoreland County Community College, his BFA from Seton Hill University and is a recent MFA graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. He currently teaches art as an adjunct instructor at Seton Hill University and Westmoreland County Community College. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC, among other museums and galleries around this region.