Christina Nicola :I Want To Be Wonderful | Review By Carmen Smith
(Tuesday October 18th, 2022) - (Saturday December 3rd, 2022)
“I Want To Be Wonderful” Opens at Coral Springs Museum of Art.Christina Nicola is an AfroRomantic Lyrical Abstractionist based in Miami, FL and Brooklyn, New York.
“I Want To Be Wonderful” Opens at Coral Springs Museum of Art.Christina Nicola is an AfroRomantic Lyrical Abstractionist based in Miami, FL and Brooklyn, New York. Influenced by abstract expressionism and fauvism, Nicola demonstrates a clear affinity for experimentation and personal expression. The term she coined, AfroRomantic, describes her imagined and real experiences and the narratives she explores in her art. All of these hint at love, pleasure, and identity.
Born in Texas, Nicola moved to South Florida as a young chid. After spending her formative years growing up in Miami, she relocated to Orlando, FL. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Central Florida. After graduation, Nicola began exhibiting in galleries and art fairs in South Florida, Tennessee, and New York.
In the Fall of 2018, Christina Nicola moved from Florida to Brooklyn, New York. At that time she shifted focus toward a semi-autobiographical exploration of the femme identity and sexual liberation. Her uniquely layered and visceral, painterly approach to mark-making gives her work a raw, fluid feeling. Nicola currently spends her time working between Miami and New York.
“I Want To Be Wonderful” is derived from a Toni Morrison quote. Yet in her use as a title, she describes her intent “not simply to be in existence, but to claim my existence.” The current exhibition of paintings, drawings, installations and sculptures explores her coming of agency. In the body of work she visualizes the pain and pleasure of self-discovery and takes the viewer on a journey through her world. There is an expansive offering of work in the show including older portraiture as well as more recent paintings and sculptures that belong to a series called “Anatomy of An Art Star.”
The Incarnation Was Complete
I had the opportunity to speak with Nicola on opening night in between interviews and greetings. Familiar with her portraiture, I was curious regarding her newer works in the series, Anatomy of an Art Star. She explained Anatomy of an Art Star follows the Heroes Journey, with a central theme of leaving oneself to find oneself. Which is precisely what Nicola did when she went to NYC in 2018. Her piece, “The Incarnation Was Complete,” is about exhibiting for the first time since she moved to NYC. Last January was her first solo show in NYC at Brian Leo Projects. She created smaller pieces for that show to help her figure out how she wanted to approach her next generation of figurative work. This painting represents a larger version of ideas discovered in those smaller works, as well as her experience moving into Bushwick and stepping into the NYC art scene.
Nicola temporarily stopped focusing on portraits when she went to NYC, but It’s oh so quiet when she cuts loose (what holy terror) piece is her return to them – and in an exciting color palette in extra large format. Nicola is fond of the idea of double exposure in film, and decided to experiment incorporating it in her work.
It’s oh so quiet when she cuts loose (what holy terror)
The specific reference for this piece comes from a video still by Bjork. In the painting, Nicola boldly moves beyond her static 2D format and into motion. The double exposure style portrait captures several key ideas including movement, duality of the physical body and the emotional self, as well as the complexity of changing emotional states. It also relates to a poem Nicola wrote with a theme about power. Nicola herself experienced feeling of a lack of power and then a personal journey of gaining her power back. Lines from the poem can be seen peering out from under many layers of textured paint, reading “Unhealed girl” at the top. “I’m a real live wire” appears toward the bottom. One senses the tone of self exploration and personal growth in the tumult of the subject’s expressive faces.
“I went to New York City to be born again.”Kurt Vonnegut
Anatomy of an Art Star
Anatomy of an Art Star is a body of autobiographical paintings reflecting Nicola’s journey from Miami to NYC. The work truly takes the viewer into Nicola’s world, and gives a glimpse into the highs and lows of love and life.
A New York Love Story (wait til the party’s over)
As an artist myself, I have learned to allow my mind to wander, but not ignore what rises to the forefront after my meanderings. A New York Love Story (wait til the party’s over) is the painting that repeatedly comes to the surface after spending several hours with the artist at “I Want To Be Wonderful.” There is something captivating in her layers, pieces, rips, tears, and dark layers of paint. The piece exudes strife and begs closer examination. Nicola eloquently describes the work as a play on how relationships often end in chaotic messes. This is something we are conditioned not to speak of, and we are certainly not supposed to talk about feelings of vengeance. But this, in her words, is something that can be done in a painting. The central horned figure represents the artist. The pieces of rectangular cardboard and wood represent the floor plan of her former lover’s home. And in the artwork, she destroys both the home with fire as well as his faulty, hurtful misrepresentation of herself. The torn pieces of paper on wood arranged like the floor plan of her former’s residence she describes as a metaphor of the fragments of identity left behind after the end of a relationship.
Finally, I somehow caught on fire by Christina Nicola
The life size scale of Nicola’s figures draw curiosity, as people we naturally gravitate toward figures. Her thick painterly surfaces and experimental use of media gives them at times a playful touch, but definitely remind of the power and allure of paint. To see these dynamic works hear more about the process and stories behind the work, an artist talk will be held next month on November 10 from 6-8pm.
The exhibition is open until December 3. For a catalog of artworks, contact the artist at Hello@christinanicola.me or her Representative firstname.lastname@example.org.
I Want To Be Wonderful Exhibition October 18 – December 3, 2022Artist Talk Thursday, November 10th | 6 – 8:00pm