It is no coincidence that ‘Ecdysis’, the latest solo exhibition by Richard Nott at Anima-Mundi, opens over the Easter weekend at the beginning of the spring season. Ecdysis – hints at the material metamorphosis of the process of a shedding of skin, indicating constant rebirth and renewal. For Nott destruction, erosion and decomposition lead towards new creation.
'Ecdysis' is an exhibition that is the result of over 4 years in making. When viewing the paintings in this exhibition one witnesses a protracted collision of creative processes, the consequence of such a long gestation where years are spent on each work. A gradual evolution of materials - exposed, concealed, exposed, concealed - continuously. Nott sees the repetitive process of covering a surface then slashing, burning, scraping and cutting then - re-covering (and repeat indefinitely) as a platform where ‘a small war takes place’, where his own personal history merges with the history of the elements used. These works are not preoccupied with illusionistic ‘texture’, they must be their own entity and, importantly, have their own story. They become organic objects and feel like living things.
Nott refers to ‘a million events existing beneath the surface’ of each work. Time captured gestures made over such a long duration helps to create a surface and a core produced by extremes. Risk is an element that is constantly present in the studio, the risk of pushing the materials too far, covering over a revelation or scraping away too much surface history and the loss that entails. These extremes reflect the ebb and flow of daily emotion, at times flaring and charged or gentle and contemplative. This process is not an artificial one. A multitude of factors can and do result in the works being placed back on the metaphorical ‘drawing board’. Years feel lost, but never are - it all adds to the history and evolution and eventually to the finished work.
Nott admits to being drawn towards artists who return to work on the same limited number of works for their whole life, after all one spends a lifetime working on themselves. As Nott says; “I would like to think that my paintings at their best, allow me to contemplate a cycle of existence. Not a beginning with an end but a journey where genesis leads to dissolution, and on once again to genesis. An ongoing sequence beyond mortal confines. Something eternal.”