Bob Nickas x Elle Magazine Interview


You are an art critic and curator since 1984. If we go back to the beginning of the story, were you in a close relationship with art in your childhood?

 My interest in art does go back to when I was a child, despite the fact that I was not raised in a house with art, and the only museums visited when I was younger were devoted to science and natural history. I probably visited the Metropolitan Museum when I was about 11, and the Museum of Modern Art when I was 13. That’s when I first started to look closely at art magazines, the late 1960s/early ‘70s,  which was a very adventurous time for art, unlike today. On family summer vacations we took trips to Greece and Italy, where my grandparents were originally from, and so I was exposed to archaeological sites, which I saw as living history, and museums. All these years later, I respond to contemporary art that has a relationship to antiquity and to ritual, that suggests art can be a form of the travel.

You have an amazing artistic genius. Your books, exhibitions, biennials you support and more… How has this genius been nurtured over time? How did the process develop?

 Setting aside that loaded term, I would say that as you go on you realize that the way your sensibilities and mind develop is basically organic. There is a flow of curiosity. The more you see that turns you on, the further you want to go. There is no “allowance of experience” that reaches a limit. For myself the prevailing idea is never to become self-satisfied.

You have books that can be used as reference. Are there any abstract painters that you have been influenced by lately, and are there any artists you follow?

 I still follow the painters who were foundational for me back in the 1980s and ’90s, and I believe that a foundation in art is the same as for a house, it’s what you build on. Two of these artists are in the show at Sevil Dolmaci—Philip Taaffe and Dan Walsh. Another favorite painter is also included, Xylor Jane, who never ceases to amaze me with the beauty, complexity and obsessiveness of what she does. I don’t know of any other painter today who explores the magical aspect of numbers.

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