Nikolai Ishchuk approaches photography as a material-medium first and foremost, actively inviting influences from other media such as painting, drawing and sculpture. Although artists like Warhol, Rauchsenburg and Polke have explored the potential of reproducible imagery in modern contemporary painting, that hasn’t yet been met by a reciprocal movement from photography practitioners exploring the more painterly potential and applications of photographic materials and processes, until now.
“I have come to use photography as a platform to engage with other media and their histories in the visual arts. I found that the most productive vehicle for this is to consider photography as just another tool in a repository of mark-making tools.”
Nikolai uses the materials associated with the photographic medium in ways and with the logic of another. Photosensitive surfaces are not just receptor surfaces like canvas, they are uniquely reactive surfaces so the acts of adding and subtracting (the acts of creation and destruction) become intertwined in really interesting ways. This Viewing Room brings together Nikolai’s early body of work from around 2013 that he refers to as mixed media prints. Each unique work is an untitled work but the body has various sub-strands – Spills; Sedimentations; Harvest. Each work uniquely explores the more painterly and gestural applications of photographic materials or of other materials over a photographic surface.
Processes and Mark-Making
One can geologically examine the reworkings, scrapings, knife marks, and colour residue from rubbed off monotype runs as the prints are gradually overwhelmed into a kind of imagelessness. The elaborations open up various spaces in the surface, competing but interdependent. With occasional hints of landscapes and other representative imagery, the works could also be seen as evoking the digital glitch aesthetic of corrupted image files, but done additively in analogue.
Objects in their Own Right
Initially working with sculpture, Nikolai carries over that sensibility into his wall-based work. He still primarily thinks of them as objects, and does not wish them to appear flat and two-dimensional. With his mixed media works, the pieces sit between six nails in the wall, so they are squeezed from the bottom and the top, with no backing and just the rigidity of the paper to keep them in place. For protection, these can be framed within an acrylic box or deep box frame.