Monday, September 27, 2021

Liminal States/Silver #2

 by Robert Boyd

Jim Nolan, Liminal States/Silver #2, mixed media, 2019

I am a material boy. I love to own things, especially if those things were created by artists. But because I was laid off shortly after COVID started, I haven't been spending money on art. (If you're hiring, call me!) But a few days ago, I got a new piece of art, which you can see above, hanging in my grimy apartment. It is a work by Jim Nolan, an old artist friend of mine. 

I think I met him when he was giving a brief talk about his work in a Lawndale Big Show about 11 years ago. His work was distinguished then by it's somewhat rough-hewn, craft-less approach. I wish I had a recording of his talk, but I remember that he concluded with a statement like this: "If you keep working on a thing, does it get better?" I'm paraphrasing from memory. It seemed like a strong statement against craft. But nowadays, he is still creating artworks that veer into the conceptual, but he is also doing work as a potter. It seems that he has embraced craft.

Jim Nolan, Liminal States/Silver #2, mixed media, 2019

I've written about Nolan's work several times over the past few years. And I thought it would be fun to celebrate this new acquisition with a short post about this work.

Jim Nolan, Liminal States/Silver #2, mixed media, 2019

The whole thing is a wooden construction, including the hand-built black frame. The gray square in the center is wood painted with silvery paint. The holes are neatly cut, and about an inch or two beneath the surface is a mirror.

What is it all about? I have no idea. But Jim has told me that all his art is in dialogue with the work of earlier artists. That feels a little masturbatory, but lets be realistic--except for "outsider artists", every artist is in some way in dialogue with the past. I don't mean to suggest that we have a Harold Bloomian anxiety of influence going on here, but why not?

I don't have an explanation that's better than that, but I'm sure if you buy him a beer, Nolan will tell you something...


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