Nicholas Wilton | The Fragility of Nature

Winter Birds by Nicholas Wilton
Winter Birds by Nicholas Wilton

By Virginia Campbell

A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF ART REFRAINS FROM OVERTLY PLEASING the eye at first blush. In fact, plenty of art nowadays goes so far as to deliberately offend the eye, at least initially. This is all to the purpose of getting our attention (no easy task) in order to then engage our assumptions about art.

Nicholas Wilton, who lives and makes art in Marin County, CA, knows a great deal about that kind of art and doesn’t work that way. “I use beauty,” he says, “as part of the seduction in the work.” It sounds simple enough, and it should, since it is the more time-honored means of connecting art with its audience.

Wilton’s commitment to the beauty-as-seduction strategy runs deep. His pieces put a welcoming dose of it right on the surface; they offer pleasure at first blush. But once his square-ish mixed-media creations have drawn you in through sheer enjoyment of color and texture, they hang on to your eyeballs with impressive tenacity.

The patterns and images—built up in layers of paint, plaster, and collage on wood and then partly effaced through sanding and scraping—provide physical symbols of the perplexing depths beneath a surface that dares to be eager to please…

Featured in March 2007

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