Ken Nicol is a master at divining order out of chaos — particularly chaos of the everyday-life variety. Whether he’s carefully sorting swarms of houseflies or arranging potato chips into tidy grids, this Toronto artist distills mathematical purity out of lo-fi dross. With his latest show, themed on the number 100, now on in Toronto, Nicol talked to me about his work. The resulting condensed Q&A is out in today's National Post. An excerpt:
Q Your current show is themed on 100. Why?
A I don’t know. I’m hoping to make a list of 100 reasons to do 100. I’ve been asking people for ideas. Someone said, “Well, 100 is really round, it’s not like 37, all pointy and stuff.” Ha! But 100 did come up with the Pringles I use, because it’s 100 chips in every can. And the show is on for 100 hours. So 100 kept coming up. And it’s a great tool, because it’s a good goal for something. If I claim 100 as a genre of mine, then I can know when to stop collecting things like my white beard hairs. It gives me a nice little parameter.
Q Was math a big thing for you in school? There’s so much in your art about symmetry, counting and sets.
A Generally I sucked at math in school. But I do a lot of drafting. I suppose it’s geometry I’m more interested in. Phi, the Golden Section number — that’s pretty neat. And as for grids, well, I mean, look at my heroes: Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre. Though I keep on buying Cy Twombly books, and I don’t know why.
Q Because your works can be so small and precise, I find they prompt me to acknowledge my own poor attention to detail. Does it bother you that people don’t always pay as close attention to objects as you do?
A It totally bugs me. I mean, you go to a Ken Nicol show — if you actually pay attention, you’re going to be rewarded. A lot of this stuff is easy to absorb, because it’s nice-looking and well done. But if you go a little bit further into it, there’s more.
There's definitely more, I agree! To read the rest of the interview, head to the Post.
Nicol's show Hundreds of Things, Volume 1 continues at MKG127 in Toronto until November 12. He also has a small show at Convenience Gallery that closes November 24.
(Image of Ken Nicol's 100 Pringles, Regular, Sour Cream & Onion, Salt & Vinegar, Barbeque 2011 Courtesy the artist and MKG127)
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Posted by Leah Sandals at 8:36 AM