Sidney Nolan, Untitled, 1986, spray paint on canvas, 184 x 160 cm, Collection of the Sidney Nolan Trust, © Sidney Nolan Trust
Roma Piotrowska is Exhibitions Manager at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.
“Sidney Nolan, arguably the most important Australian artist, is well recognised in his native land, but less known in Britain, where he lived for over 30 years. Much of the time in the UK was spent at his studio, The Rodd, situated on an English - Welsh border, only 55 miles from Ikon Gallery, where I am writing these words. Nolan painted a vast amount of paintings at The Rodd, including large scale, spray paintings, which were completely unknown in the UK until our exhibition at Ikon (10 June — 3 September 2017). It was extraordinary to find out that a whole series of previously not exhibited in Britain paintings were available on our doorstep. Ikon’s director Jonathan Watkins had no doubt we had to organise a show of these exceptional works.
We have made a few trips to The Rodd to make a selection for the exhibition, and this is where I first saw my favourite Nolan’s flower painting. Unidentified, green plants seem to sway in the wind. Their large heads, painted on a brown background, dominate the composition. Spray technique adds a wonderful freshness to the work, evoking the notion of a slight vibration. The kind of air vibration one could see on a hot summer day.
The painting was long listed for the Ikon exhibition, but a curatorial decision was made not to include it in the final selection in order to keep the thematic consistency of the show. For me this ‘rejected’ work will stay my favourite Nolan’s spray painting, as it conveys that carefree summer feeling. It is a perfect work to appreciate at the end of summer, as we approach the end of our Nolan show at Ikon.”