Nicola’s Scott’s illusive play with holography and visual perception


“A painted surface is a real, living form,” wrote Kazimir Malevich, the Polish-Ukrainian Russian avant-garde artist. Malevich’s work has been influential for Nicola Scott and her exhibition Impossible Depth. While working towards the show, Scott repeated one of Malevich’s expressions over in her mind: that the visual should induce “pure feeling”.

The Brisbane-based artist’s work is heavily informed by tensions between the materiality and history of abstract painting, alongside contemporary digital and virtual spaces. “My practice centres around visual perception and how painting can draw attention to the unreliable or the ambiguous aspects of seeing,” says Scott.

The artist’s play with visual perception interrogates the impact of holography—a method of creating three-dimensional illusions—within her two dimensional paintings. Behind Scott’s ocular subversions is her engagement with language as a starting point for painting. “For this show, I was thinking about holographic images and . . . then I started to repeat the phrase ‘hollow graphic’ in my head.”

Impossible Depth includes a series of brightly coloured paintings densely layered with neon and monochromatic transitions and textures. There are also several paintings created in homage to Malevich’s Black Square series. Scott’s abstracted images urge viewers to question which layers were created first, and to highlight the collision between organic and synthetic matter. “I want to tap into the viewer’s desire to make sense of an image as we’re unconsciously always trying to make sense of what we’re seeing.”

Scott’s paintings reference bodily formations such as organs and molecular cells while simultaneously capturing geometric and digital aesthetics. These visual forms have a spatial ambiguity: “I’m always trying to create a sense where the viewer is slightly mesmerised or confounded.”

Impossible Depth
Nicola Scott
2—24 September

This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Autumn Royal