"How to relate to irregular motions of a physical structure"
Niki's painterly expression of vulnerable settings is a kind of portrayal of a scene where a chaotic event has taken place. She examines landscapes which have been exposed to extreme events, left scattered and unrecognisable.
Wild storms, powerful hurricanes, tsunamis and their aftermath; trees uprooted, washed-out towns, constructions torned apart are referenced through a meticulous technique. Unusually wide brushstrokes are noteworthy, these achieved by custom brushes which she builds herself in the studio.
The uncontainable force of fluids and elements find their way translated into her artistic language. Chaos and order, control and the absence of it. Is it nature's turmoil what ignites the artist's motivation to paint such phenomena and understand the world in the process?
In Cervin's painterly mediations, colour schemes unfold in dynamic, sharp contours that meet and form her harmonic variations of disaster. Abstraction and landscape have formed together and essential aesthetic concern exponentially emphasised in modern art and culture since Joseph Mallord William Turner. In Niki's paintings the challenge of representing nature is given a new breath alas the politically imbued debate around contemporary art.
Paradoxically, within the unfolding of her craft one may also find resemblance to digital image distortion which add to the complexity of the brave new worlds her paintings usually evoke.
- José Thomás Giraldo
Gallery OBRA, Malmö (2020)
An exhibition in high speed
It was during the selection process for the jury-judged salon Ung Konst (Young Art) 2006 that I first saw the then 21 year old Niki Cervin's paintings. It was like gazing out over a hazy morning landscape through binoculars damaged by the damp. At her first solo exhibition at Estetica 2008, the exquisite vibrancy was complemented with restrained pencil drawings. Early on she displayed a mastery of the monumental and colour-saturated with the same ease as the extremely stripped down. This is still the most convincing debut I have seen, and it was therefore with some excitement that I went to Estetica to reacquaint myself with her art. Perhaps also with some trepidation; as it is not uncommon for an artist to receive recognition for a certain artistic expression early on, and get stuck in one track instead of venturing out on different paths. But so far, these concerns are unwarranted. If the early works embodied a frozen moment in a landscape, then that equilibrium is now disturbed, both in the drawings and in the paintings. Several of the works contain movement, started either by an explosive force, or by gravitation, which draws the components of the motif downwards. The drawings are still simple but, through the way that motion is created, an element of the aesthetics of comics has sneaked in. The exhibition's central point is an enormous painting which was also part of the exhibition "More Passion" at Dunkers Cultural Centre last year. Here, the movement is directed inwards. It is like going at ultra high speed on some sort of car track, in the middle of a race for life or death in a postapocalyptic dystopia. I get a sense of collapse. The structure, which could be a road in the picture, is broken up by immense forces further ahead. There is also an exciting cross between the power paintings and the landscapes, small drawings carried out with coloured pen where the forces have been given different colours. Vectors of magnetic fields, gravitation, velocity and acceleration fill the image and become jagged landscapes. Physics-meets psychedelia-meets the japanese artist Hokusai.
Niki Cervin’s works completely overwhelm the spectator. The meter wide canvases unfold like great saturated doomsday prophecies. Every single centimeter is used up. Sullen clouds of grey, black, orange and yellow-brown hover in front of us. Niki Cervin lets the colours pour over one another, blotting them out, but not smearing them on top of each other. From out of these clouds, unseen worlds step forward; newly made or lost landscapes. Without titles, these works become ours to fill with content. With her dystopian colours, Cervin paints a vision of the future that suggests emptiness and desolation. The dreamlike coloured landscapes speak of a different time. Small towns are silhouetted, a ghost town marked on the map. The colour drips down over the town, in between these intrusive, restless works, little pencil drawings poke out. They pop up like mushrooms in the forest. Small maps unfold. Or are they crumpling? They are maps over places, long since abandoned, where we neither can, nor wish to, go. These are drawings that illustrate lost places on earth, as well as in ourselves. Characterised by a richness of detail and delicate labyrinths, they contrast against the saturated sheets that are dripping with colour. But there is something fateful in all the pieces. The absence of reality and life is striking. Dreamily, the masses of colour float out, and take a new direction. These are traces of the thoughts and inner life of man, rather than something else. Niki Cervin’s works breathe insight about something bigger and deeper. Without getting stuck, she develops her imagery. Clearly and distinctly, she continues to build on what she’s started. In her majestic landscape we can probably all find ourselves. Or disappear.
Links for other reviews
HD Båstad Bjäre Konstförening, 2016
Ölandsbladet, Galleri Svalan, 2016
Sydsvenskan »En utställning i hög hastighet«, 2013
"Passion" Dunkers kulturhus, Sydsvenskan, 2012
HD, "Passion", Dunkers Kulturhus, 2012
Sydsvenskan, Staffanstorps Konsthall, 2011
Sydsvenskan, tips inför helgen, Galleri Estetica, 2009
Om Konst, Galleri Estetica, 2009
Sydsvenskan, Makeriet, 2009
Skånskan, Makeriet, 2009
Sydsvenskan »10 svenska debutanter«, 2008
Sydsvenskan »Tomhet med innehåll« Galleri Estetica, 2008