Ahead of her upcoming solo show, the ambitious Sydney artist Nike Savvas talks to Vault about renouncing nostalgia, the dystopian nature of Op Art and making work for the people.
“It’s about blurring the boundaries between disciplines, as a way of coming up with a brand new animal,” says Nike Savvas, who trained in painting and continues to practise it in an expanded sense via immersive mixed-media works. Savvas' works are playful and difficult to ignore, employing optical illusions, bright colours, everyday materials and large settings. Her 2005 installation at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne is a classic example: thousands of coloured balls suspended in mid-air like an exploded pointillist landscape. However, there is always deeper meaning, both political and personal, and the exuberance of each work is a kind of celebration at the end of a troubleshooting process that can sometimes take years.
Savvas’ work is informed by Op Art in the intricate calculations required to perform her shimmering moiré feats, but it can also be considered Pop in its use of everyday materials and broad appeal. “I want it to have criticality,” she says, “but I also want your average person to be able to connect with it. I’m not interested in using my work for stratifying society [or] gentrification. It’s art for the people.” Although it masquerades as a form of architectural integration, the work Perpetual Present, made for the Gurner building in Brisbane, reads and functions as art in its own right.
Savvas’s 2012 survey exhibition Liberty and Anarchy at Leeds Art Gallery in the UK exemplified the artist’s interest in breaking down boundaries, featuring the Sliding ladder series, which uses the algebraic equation that gave rise to string art in the 1960s and ’70s. “I had made very complicated forms that used other mathematical equations, and a ... Subscribe to read this article in full