British artist and photographer, Nick Waplington is based in New York City. For the past three decades he has forged his career primarily as a photographer, and was the first living British artist to have a solo photography show at the Tate in 2014. Yet in recent years he has steadily dedicated a large part of his practice to painting and drawing.
He first began painting in 1995, and it developed in 2007, whilst he was completing a long-term photography project in Israel. After taking photographs outside all day, he found he had time and a favourable environment for painting. In contrast to his photographs, which were outward looking, the paintings were abstract and coming more from his internal state of mind as a reaction to the contemporary world around him.
His influences have stemmed from many things: his surroundings, online porn, the Internet, music, political chaos and contradictions of everyday life. They are all very much of the present, the here and now. As he says, “I am seeking and searching constantly. People ask me what I find interesting, and the answer is everything”. He is curious about mixing the high with the low, and what that says about society.
Waplington worked on a major book project with the fashion designer Alexander McQueen during 2008/2009, called Working Progress (2013), the title both refers to McQueen’s working Process as a fashion designer and Waplington’s working process as an artist making photo books. In the show, he juxtaposed his photographs of the fashion world with those of rubbish dumps; his way of commenting on the chaos and physical materials of both. In March 2015, this project became the first one-person exhibition by a British photographer at the Tate Gallery in London.
Much like the McQueen series, which the designer wanted to be “dirty and messy”, Waplington’s new work reveals a constant concern of his 30-year career: an affinity for barely contained chaos. Waplington makes a conscious choice to make it “deliberately difficult to perceive order”, he explains. “My paintings deal with this inner world, whereas my photographic works deal with the world around me”, says Waplington in the NY Times.
The “visual scrambling” Waplington goes onto explain, is a “metaphysical representation of mass hysteria, that moment within a society starts to implode and there is a release of pressure, the kettle blows and a state of chaos envelopes the multitude”.
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