Living on a Promise
Highly-recognised both in Australia and internationally for her immersive, colourful and optically charged installations, in Living on a Promise, Savvas presents a new body of work that optically activate space within striated lines of vertical colour. Small in scale, her works project large visual auras, combining high-vibrancy layered screens with oscillating colours and floating surfaces. The effect is at once mesmerising and disorienting; a pulsating mix of hue and space that tests and delights the senses.
Developed from numerous sources, including her acclaimed Liberty and Anarchy installation at Leeds Art Gallery (UK, 2012), these works offer diverse points of access, from mathematical equations and systems of logic, to perception based optics, colour and ephemerality. Living on a Promise follows a research trip to the archives of MOMA, New York, where Savvas undertook an in-depth examination of the critically celebrated Responsive Eye exhibition of 1965. Contributing to an existing art historical discourse pertaining to optical phenomena and colour frequencies, this exhibition examines how different optical algorithms produce different outcomes – and occasionally even false colours. In these works, Savvas “seeks to dismantle conventional boundaries, overstep thresholds, and … to open into a new world of artificial patterns, optical ghosting, fugitive colours and temporal aliasing”.
Since training as a painter in the late 1980s, Savvas has consistently probed the traditional conventions of painting as a medium, such as two-dimensional space, surface and materiality. In this exhibition she explores painting’s potential anew, producing a ‘synthesised’ space in which the viewer experiences a disorientating shift in their perceptual register – a juncture between fact and subjective reception.
Nike Savvas has exhibited extensively within Australia and abroad throughout her career. She received a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts (Honours) at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. She has been involved in over 250 solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Australasia, the United States and Asia: notably the East International (Norwich, 2003), and the 11th Indian Triennale (New Delhi, 2005) where she won a gold medal – International Jury Award for her work. Nike Savvas, Living on a Promise (A1), 2017, carbon fibre, acrylic paint, aluminium, 52 x 40.5 x 40.5 cm. Photo: Zan Wimberley Her work Anthem, 2003 (The Carny) was included in the internationally acclaimed exhibition Visual Music (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles & Hirshhorn, Washington, 2005) that traced the trajectory of Visual Music, her work being cited as a significant historical contributor to the annals of visual music history. She has also exhibited at Camden Arts Centre (London) and a vast commissioned work for Southbank Centre (London), at the Royal Festival Hall. Her works are held in major public and private collections, including the Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney); Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney); Victoria & Albert Museum (London); Artbank Australia; Deutsche Bank; The British Library (London); Tate Gallery Library (UK); and Auckland Art Gallery (New Zealand). Savvas has received numerous awards including the Museum of Contemporary Art Primavera Acquisitive Art Award, ACT Creative Arts Fellowship and an Australia Council Fellowship. She has completed major commissions for institutions and corporations, including AGNSW; Nike Town (San Francisco); Museum of Contemporary Art; Deakin University; Deutsche Bank; Selfridges London; Westin Hotel, New Delhi; and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). In 2012, an extensive monograph on Savvas’ work was released by Black Dog Publishing (London) titled, Nike Savvas: Full of Love, Full of Wonder. She is currently working on a major installation for an exhibition of a commissioned temporary work for the BDA (Barangaroo, NSW), titled Papillon. In 2018 Savvas will present a significant new installation at the Art Gallery of South Australia for the prestigious Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, curated by Erica Green.