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"Q Train" by Nigel Van Wieck, pastel on paper, 22" x 30", 1990

Nigel Van Wieck: “Q Train” from the Working Girl series pastel on paper, 22″ x 30″, 1990.

Nigel Van Wieck is an American painter who lives and works in New York. In 1995 his work was exposed at The Venice Biennale’s Centennial Exhibition, in Venice. For the past five years, he had three exhibition at Galerie Elisabeth Michitsch, in Vienna.
It doesn’t take long for art critics to mention Edward Hopper when commenting the work of Nigel Van Wieck. And with good reasons. Here’s an excerpt from a short essay written by art critic and independent curator David Galloway for the exhibition Escape held in Vienna at the Galerie Elisabeth Michitsch:

For nearly two decades, Nigel Van Wieck has been evolving a distinctive idiom firmly rooted in the tradition of American realism. His small-format oils offer glimpses of classic Americana: racetracks and baseball fields, toy sailboats skimming over a pond, tourists relaxing on sun-drenched beaches. Typically his are solitary figures, often recalling the loners once celebrated by Edward Hopper, and though there is no Hopperesque gloom here, at moments there emerges a vague sense of the ominous. (first published in ARTnews, February 2011).

The girl in Nigel Van Wieck’s train reminded me of the painting Summer Interior by Edward Hopper (1909).

“Summer Interior” by Edward Hopper, oil on canvas, 24 x 29 inches, 1909
“Summer Interior” by Edward Hopper, oil on canvas, 24 x 29 inches, 1909 (retrieved from artchive.com)

Both subject seem to have collapsed, as if brought down by a heavy but an invisible weight or an unnamed sadness. Both portrait somehow speak of lassitude and weariness. In his Cool Memories (1980-1985) Jean Baudrillard observed:

Melancholy is just as much an affectation as joie de vivre –who is happy to be alive? Beings, like things, are naturally prostrate and only manage to seem happy by a superhuman effort, which has a great deal of affectation in it, but this is more in line with the involution of things. (tr. by Chris Turner, New York: Verso, [1987]1990 p. 4. Google books)

More resources online about Nigel Van Wieck:

  • Nigel Van Wieck’s main website is his blog over at nigelvanwieck.net It’s regularly updated (the more recent post was published on March 2012). There’s also a website for reviews written about his painting, another one proposing longer essays and one from wich one can by prints of his paintings.
  • NigelVanWieck.com is a Flash based website where one can find reproductions of many of his paintings from various series (Players, Places, Labor Day, Miami, Nudes, New York, etc.). I think the website hasn’t been updated in a while (the copyright year is 2004). It nevertheless offers the easiest way to browse through Nigel Van Wieck’s work.
  • The artist also have a Vimeo and Twitter account. Both haven’t been updated in past year. He also has at least two Tumblr blogs: There Is Only Now and okimage (the latter one offers higher resolution reproductions).
  • At least two websites exist of exhibitions of his work held at Galerie Elisabeth Michitsch: Places in 2007 and Escape in 2010.
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