Where's Dora, 2003, oil and wax on canvas, 150cm x 270cm each panel


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Where’s Dora?

Olga Gambari
translated from the Italian by Miriam Hurley and Claudia Ricci (catalogue essay for “Where’s Dora” Mar & Partners, Turin 2007)

Perhaps they were already in his work, in the abstract forms that he had painted for years, with a minimalism enamored of the historic lesson of America. Maybe they were camouflaged, transformed, in the profusion of colors that dominated the geometric precision of the patterns, marked out like mathematical modules. No doubt he had them in his eyes and in his heart. Now Nick Gammon dreams only of more and more flowers and leaves, all plants of paradise, symbols of an Eden in an exotic, tropical land.
The shapes of hibiscus and monstera deliciosa have become modules, forms that detach from reality and turn abstract, with which he creates patterns as precisely considered as a theorem in everything from their compositional structure to their chromatic values. There is an essay by the American artist Ad Reinhardt, written for a 1949 exhibition, which had been painted in the Virgin Islands, where he lists, by negation, a series of subjects denials that in some way “live” in his almost monochrome paintings, based on the darkest hues of the Pantone colors. He names: “no seashells or undersea caves, no blinding sand or wild winds or superstitions ... no trace or taste oflobster or turtle, mango or mongoose, no rum or coca-cola, no bamboo or barracuda ... no fish or fowl ... sea or sky-scape, no abstractings from nature ...”. His negations are in a way affirmations, suggesting that the dark monochrome abstract paintings in reality contain references to all these things. It ties in with the idea of a “paradise on the other side of the world”, a concept that runs through Western culture, from classical literature, to the discovery of the “New World”, and even the hippy’s pilgrimage to India.

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