With his latest Australian exhibition “Dreams That I’ve Thrown Down the Hall,” Melbourne-based artist Grant Nimmo delivers vibrant mixed media works that offer a brief commentary on what he finds to be the frustrating state of contemporary art. Balanced atop large paintings, tiny human and animal busts stare into the distance—an equally important part of each piece. Nimmo blends both in an effort for self-reflection and thoughts on anxiety. There’s something lightly humorous and cute to the work found within the exhibition, but more importantly, there’s an overall sense of experiencing something never before seen: thoughtful, quietly chaotic painting and sculpture combinations. The show opens tomorrow, 4 September 2014 at Melbourne’s West Space gallery; a hub for emerging talent.
This show follows Nimmo’s previous Melbourne showcase, at the ChapterHouse Lane in January. While he has been working on this show since, he tells CH, “Most of the work I made early on got discarded about seven weeks ago. I took ideas from the discarded works so they are still part of it.” He completed the painting portion of each piece first, before shifting his attention to the accompanying sculptures. “In hindsight,” he continues, “I probably should have given myself more time on the sculptures as it’s new material to me, but it came together pretty nicely, I think. It’s a pretty minimal show for me, but I think that’s a nice thing.”
I kind of like the idea of my work [being] sort of a chronicle of something in a language that I or nobody else understands. I like that… the idea of art being unexplainable.
Oftentimes, Nimmo’s process begins with a walk, or simply sitting down and exploring his mind. As for overall inspiration, the artist says, “I kind of like the idea of my work [being] sort of a chronicle of something in a language that I or nobody else understands. I guess I like that, or I expect it from art—the idea of art being unexplainable. That’s something that drives me, the prospect that I can avoid everything and still be OK and say something.”
From there, execution involves the smaller details. “I spend a lot of time jotting down things or doing little sketches, I try keeping a book around but I usually leave it at home by accident so end up sketching a lot on Post-It notes and such, which I end up working from.” Nimmo then transcribes the rough little drawings into larger painted works. “There is a lot of visual organizing in my head as most of my work is very quickly executed, with very little room for mistakes being rubbed back or painted over. It usually needs to sit well in my mind first. You never know exactly what’s going to come out and I guess that problem solving and visual organization are good exercises for the brain, and a part of making art that I really enjoy.”
Nimmo—like so many artists—has trouble categorizing his own work, “I’m not ever really sure of this and I guess thats a part of what I do.” There’s a sense of exploration to each piece, and conflict amidst ease. The mixed media component also creates an audience within each work—the human-like figures seem to gaze off, staring at other works and viewers. Nimmo concludes with a through-line to his work, “You are sort of required or expected to think in future tense or at least extrovertedly, to some degree as an artist, but I have never really thought that way. Art is more like a nervous twitch to me that I’m hoping will go away at some point. [laughs] Just kidding. I just would like to be able to continue building on and extending that and then maybe I’ll get a clearer view and be able to decipher what is actually going on.”
“Dreams That I’ve Thrown Down the Hall” opens at 6PM 4 September and will run through 4 October 2014 at West Space, Level 1, 225 Bourke Street in Melbourne, Australia.
Images courtesy of Grant Nimmo