Thomas Nozkowski is known for his modestly scaled abstract paintings, featuring enigmatic shapes and richly textured surfaces. In contrast to many artists of his generation and successive ones, he works slowly in oil paint on prepared panels and paper, and the size of his work never extends beyond three feet in any direction.
Viewers are drawn into his intricately formed spaces, which are influenced by direct observation of the world around him and enhanced by his pictorial imagination. A hike in the area of the Hudson Valley where he lives, an arrangement of household objects, and numerous examples of art in European and American movements have all made their way into his paintings, but rarely can one identify a specific starting point. Instead, one recognizes a carefully orchestrated event, the result of procedures of making, changing, and remaking. His works possess a startling freshness, despite the amount of time necessary to create them.
[....] We asked the artist to pair a selection of his paintings with art from the Museum’s permanent collection. In this way, he could tease out aspects of inspiration and affinity, allowing viewers to make surprising connections. Works by Milton Avery, Stuart Davis, Paul Gauguin, Morris Graves, David Alfaro Siqueiros, among others, help us appreciate Nozkowski’s achievements as well as the Museum’s collection.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, Thomas Nozkowski offers the first detailed account of the paintings of American artist Thomas Nozkowski (born 1944), creator of modestly-sized abstract works that swiftly convey what one writer described as 'a remarkable sense of freedom within constraint.' As an emerging artist in the 1970s, Thomas Nozkowski's mature style developed in the wake of Minimalism, Pop Art and Colour Field painting and during a decade which became defined by movements - such as Conceptual and Performance art - that eschewed painting. While many artists identified with the notion of 'painting's terminal condition', Nozkowski chose to express personal experience through small-scale canvases that refused to adhere to 'a signature style' or align themselves with a particular movement. Through John Yau's perceptive text, the trajectory of Nozkowski's very individual artistic pathway is clearly presented. Offering insightful context and discussion of specific works, this book provides the definitive narrative of an artist gifted with an original vision.