The Gallery pays tribute to the life and work of Australian artist John Nixon (1949-2020), who passed away in August in Melbourne. Renowned for his non-objective paintings and constructions, Nixon’s extensive output included music, photography, film, collage, print-making and publishing. In his paintings, he brought abstract and conceptual art together by combining the monochrome and ready-made, seeking to embed modernist concerns within the materiality of everyday life, with a DYI punk edge.
Nixon was also a teacher, a mentor and a curator, who initiated the alternative galleries Arts Projects, V SPACE and V SPACE ANNEX in Melbourne. In 1980, Nixon took up the helm of Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art, serving as its director until 1981. During his relatively short tenure, he left a deep impression on Brisbane’s art scene for his bold, rigorous and national approach to programming established Australian artists, presenting Howard Arkley, Virginia Coventry, Elizabeth Gower, Mike Parr, Imant Tillers, Peter Tyndall and Jenny Watson.
Concurrently, Nixon established the alternative art initiatives Q SPACE and Q SPACE ANNEX, which hosted short ‘gig’ exhibitions. A prolific artist, producer and collector, Nixon lived by his 1980 manifesto: ‘DRINK IT ALL IN’ . . . ‘LIFE IS ART!’. The Collection holds 18 of his works, ranging from painting and installation to recordings and multiples, including the sprawling sound archive work ANTI–MUSIC 1979–83, comprising solo recordings and collaborations with artists and musicians from Melbourne and Brisbane.
We wish to express our condolences to John’s family – prominent art historian and curator Sue Cramer and daughter Emma Nixon.
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Featured image detail: John Nixon Self portrait (non objective composition) purple (from ‘AUS Australien’ 1988 portfolio) 1988