Nicolas Holiber’s Platform exhibition is now open (click here to view), featuring as the next show in Unit London’s online viewing room. Through a concentrated and focused approach, the virtual exhibition programme provides a space for artists to engage with a diverse range of pertinent socio-political issues. Platform is a truly accessible programme, open to all and presented to a wide audience. In keeping with the fundamental social principles of the programme, 10% of all sales proceeds from every Platform exhibition will be donated to a charity or non-profit organisation nominated by the artist. For his solo exhibition, Holiber has nominated Artistic Noise, an organisation that provides teaching in the visual arts to young people who are incarcerated, on probation or elsewhere involved in the justice system. Through artistic study and entrepreneurship programs, Artistic Noise offers a space for court-involved youths to have their voices heard.
The events of the past year have invoked a change in Holiber’s artistic practice; the pieces presented in his Platform exhibition embody this shift. Influenced by the multitude of issues we have faced universally this year, Holiber’s work explores the notions of collective trauma and distress while highlighting and examining the complexities of human behaviour. These works do not necessarily interpret or critique, but offer visceral expressions of the unease, disquiet and pressure we have communally experienced.
Holiber’s art is typified by its singular use of materials and vivid colours. His intensely gestural works seem to exist simultaneously in the second and third dimensions, combining painting and drawing with sculpture. Following in the footsteps of artists such as Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and Jean Dubuffet, multiple thick coats of impasto paint are the vital elements of Holiber’s sculptural paintings that undulate before the viewer.
Shake it Off, 2020, acrylic and oil on canvas, 92 x 76 cm
In a recent interview with Juxtapoz Magazine, Holiber delves into his intuitive artistic process: ‘Materiality plays such an important role in my work and I’ve always been open to exploring and experimenting with new things in the studio. The texture is just something I’m drawn to, I can’t really explain why, but texture and tactility are at the forefront of my mind whenever I’m making something.’
Holiber’s distinctive way of working permits his subconscious to take over the beginnings of his artistic process. In the interview, he describes how it feels when he paints in this way: ‘It’s also mildly terrifying because I feel like I’m driving in the dark with no headlights.’ During the purely instinctive initial process, Holiber manipulates the acrylic medium, pushing and pulling it across the canvas until body parts and facial features begin to emerge from the physicality of the brushstrokes. Holiber’s tactile working methods conceive unbridled and riotous artworks that can be infinitely perceived anew as they morph, transform and shift from every angle.
Born in 1985 in New York, Nicolas Holiber now lives and works in Brooklyn. He graduated from the New York Academy of Art in 2012 with an MFA and was one of three students to receive a postgraduate fellowship upon completing his degree. In 2015, his first monumental public work with NYC Parks, Head of Goliath, was exhibited in Tribeca Park. Holiber has exhibited widely across the United States and internationally. Past awards and honours include a residency at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Process Space on Governors Island, ArtInPlace Public Sculpture Award in Virginia, Visiting Artist-in-Residence at West Nottingham Academy in Maryland, and a residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in Germany.