The watercolors of Graham Nickson are like a sports car that never leaves the fast lane. They are a perfect fusion of recklessness and grace. As if it weren’t enough to court disapproval by working in a medium that never shook its associations with high society amateurism, Nickson tests patience further with potentially the most dainty of subjects, sunsets and sunrises. Without a drop of irony or gimmickry in the tank, his is a gas-guzzling vintage model indeed—but what a beauty. He defies and exploits the blaze and bleed of pure pigment and aqueous medium in wager after wager with transcendence, capturing the solidity and surprise of crepuscular intensity. But he is as dogged in building up looming darks and gathering clouds as he is daring at inserting, say, a purple streak into an orange soak. At once the hare and the tortoise, he takes every corner at full speed but leaves no sensation unexplored. He has a powerful machine at his command: sprightly, but strong; luxurious and rock solid.
Graham Nickson, La Bobadilla Series: VIII, 2002. Watercolor on paper, 18 x 24 inches. Courtesy of Betty Cuningham Gallery.
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