NIGEL MULLINS

BIOGRAPHY

NIGEL MULLINS
(b. 1969, Makhanda, South Africa)

Nigel Mullins completed his Master of Fine Art degree with distinction at Rhodes University in 1993. Since graduating, he has had 15 solo exhibitions in South Africa, Scotland, England, and Germany and has taken part in some 45 group shows. His work has been represented at the Cape Town, Johannesburg, Frankfurt and London art fairs and the Mumia International Underground Animation Festival.

In 2014 Mullins exhibited Chaotic Region at Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He is the winner of the first prize at the 14th Annual Royal Over Seas League Open Exhibition in London in 1997, a nominee for the Daimler Chrysler Award for Contemporary South African Art in 2000 and recipient of the merit prize at the ABSA Atelier in the same year.

His work is included in such public and corporate collections as Rhodes University, ABSA, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, South African Association, SASOL, TELKOM, Rand Merchant Bank, Hollard, Westminster and Chelsea Hospital Collection, Pretoria Art Museum, Sanlam, Nandos UK, Spier and KPMG.

Nigel Mullins currently lives and works in Makhanda with his wife, artist Tanya Poole, and daughter Sophie.

Nigel Mullins’ works, from the Chaotic Region (2013) and beyond, present the disparate images of human existence as a compendium of fruitless tropes that have perpetrated, perpetuated and sustained Western culture since the 18th Century. The works draw every sacralised view and arch-theory into question. Even the designation ‘human’ with its defining sets of ideologies has become an obsolete remnant exposing every pedagogue and hero, every defining character as, at the very most, ineffectual. The collection reflects the enveloping totality of contemporary culture and posits it clearly as a deadlock between past and present, as a title of his reiterates; a World Without End.

The catalogue of historical and near historical places, people and events (the subjects of Nigel’s paintings) speak of atrophied idealism and the significantly momentous at its final mundane end. It draws as much from the Romantic tradition as our own civilization does. Elvis is featured in Time on Your Side, the Bust of Vladimir Lenin at the Remote South Pole, Queen Elizabeth – an Obsolete Remnant of the Industrial Age and the first human in space; Yuri Gagarin – “Your Bright Future Guarantee”. The ghostly entities of our collective mediated past and present are materialized and shaped in the plasticity of paint. They do not intimidate nor do they awe, they are infinitely familiar and we indifferent. 

Nigel applies his material as libations covering a sacred artefact or amulet; fetishistically (see Stand Here). The paint, dense in meaning and referential value, thickly covers the canvas and sometimes the frame, as it alters and constructs. This explicitly references the painting as a thing and a support to which meaning (as material) is applied often in layers and over an expanse of time. It is not that the thick patinas of paint have no regard for the frame or consideration for the delineations of border. Rather, they recognize the boundaries specifically and some even bare their marginalia, titles and subtexts as physical ‘charms’ suspended from below. Every painted mark, like the wiry phrases affixed to the frames of the paintings, is a litany petitioning nothingness and a no one.

“Throw Your Bones”, “For Unconstrained Well-Being”, “May Reduce Insignificance”, “Good Life Guarantee [Woodstock]”, “Resolve Puzzling Events, Confounding Variables & Disturbing Unpredictability”, “Throw Your Bones”.

The insistence of the materiality of paint exposes the frame-laden subtexts. It recognizes these as definitive entities, rich in cultivated meaning. The medium treats them physically as it treats the subject matter. With the sensual gesture and drama of paint application Nigel’s work then finally turns on the paint itself and exposes the sedimentary material as concomitant to the myths of Western civilization. It is the vehicle and medium that images our underlying desires, hopes and fantasies – the futility of its so-called gains.

Wayne Matthews
2015/08/23

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 

2017
Artefacts from the Antrhopocene, CIRCA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2016
21st Century Tallismans, CIRCA Gallery, London , UK 

2015
The Obsolete Remnants of the Industrial age. Fried Contemporary, Pretoria, South Africa 

2014
Buy You Time, Equus Gallery, Western Cape, South Africa
Chaotic Region, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa

2013
Chaotic Region, curated by Tanya Poole, Rhodes University Alumni Gallery and Standard Bank Gallery, South Africa
Chaotic Region, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2008
Caveman Spaceman, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 

2006
Earthlings, Bell-Roberts GalleryCape TownSouth Africa 

2005
Ends and Escapes, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 

2004
Pacifier, ABSA Bank Gallery, Johannesburg. South Africa 

2003
Fix, Rhodes University Alumni Gallery, Albany Museum, Grahamstown Arts Festival, South Africa 

2001
Hopeful Monsters, Hanel Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Superhuman, ROSL, London and Edinburgh, UK
Hopeful Monsters, Hanel Gallery, Wiesbaden, Germany
Hopeful Monsters, Lithographs in Collaboration with Fine Line Press

2000
New Work, Dorp street Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa 

1999
Superhuman, Hanel Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 

1998
ROSL Prizewinner Exhibition, Continuum, Landings Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
Continuum, Lamont Gallery, London, UK
Momentum, Grahamstown Arts Festival and Association of Arts, Pretoria, South Africa

1994
Window into the South African Landscape, Grosvenor St, Mayfair, London, UK

SELECTED TWO-PERSON EXHIBITIONS 

2018
Glorious Order - Nigel Mullins and Ora (Edge) - Galia Gluckman, CIRCA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2016
Summer Exhibition, CIRCA Gallery, London, UK
Reality Check, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2015
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, CIRCA Gallery Booth, London, UK
FNB Jo burg Art Fair, Everard Read Gallery Booth, Johannesburg, South Africa
Cape Town Art Fair 2015, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Empire , Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa
Winter, Everard Read,  Cape Town, South Africa

2014
Cape Town Art Fair 2014, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Johannesburg Art Fair 2014, Johans Borman Fine Art, Johannesburg, South Africa
Everard Read Winter Exhibition, Cape Town, South Africa

2013
Tom Waits For No Man, curated by Gordon Froud, Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, Oudtshoorn, South Africa
Weerberig, Curated by Luan Nel, Aardklop, South Africa
Kunstfees, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Johannesburg Art Fair, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2011
MullinsPoole, The Bettendorffsche Gallery, Germany

2010
View From The South, Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa
On Colour, Colour a Colloquium. Albany Museum, Grahamstown, South Africa
8th MUMIA – Underground World Animation Festival 2010. Brazil
Juncture.Painting from South Africa. Nigel Mullins, Tanya Poole, Luan Nel. artSPACE, Berlin, Germany
International Festival of Animated Film of Fortaleza,. Brazil

2009
Johannesburg Art Fair, Johannesburg, South Africa
X2, Albany Museum, Grahamstown National Arts Festival, South Africa
Hang in There, Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa

2008
Johannesburg Art Fai, Johannesburg, South Africa
Between Meaning and Matter, Bell-Roberts, Cape Town, South Africa

SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS 

ABSA, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum
Ann Bryant Art Museum
Deloites and Touche
Ernst and Young
Hollard Insurance
Ken Logan Art Collection, USA
KPMG
Nandos UK
Oliewenhuis Art Museum
Old MutuaL Bank
Pretoria Art Museum, Sanlam
Rhodes University Collection
South African Association
Spier Art Collection
SAB
SASOL
Telkom, Rand Merchant Bank
Westminster and Chelsea Hospital Collection, London , UK
ZENECA

SELECTED AWARDS

1997
First Prize, Royal Overseas League 14th Annual Exhibition. London.

1999
Nominee for the Daimler Chrysler Award for Contemporary South African Art

2000
Merit Prize, ABSA Atelier