Nikki Vismara

My recent series of paintings on mirrors is based on photos taken in Cuba in August 2017. The photos are details of unexamined spaces: decaying buildings, stained walls, and repainted facades of once-vibrant homes. To quote Rauschenberg, “Beauty is underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look.” Rather than presenting a factual reality, the paintings are an emotional representation of a place that the title references. The mirror reiterates the concept that all art is autobiographical. When left exposed, the mirrored surface alters the painting. It literally puts the viewer into the painting, thus shifting the artist's role of sole creator. This insertion of the viewer manipulates my preconceived, final idea of the work. It forces me to surrender control. 

A separate, ongoing series of mirror paintings incorporates text and gold leaf. Both language and gold leaf are complicated and fragile. Gold leaf cannot be touched with bare hands; one mistake ruins everything. And, like words, it commands attention. The mirrors and epoxy resin used in this series make the paintings heavier, literally increasing their physical weight. Conceptually, this reinforces the idea of words as having great weight of meaning. Having taught English abroad for many years, I am hyperaware of words and their usage. The text is chosen with intention and influenced by my surroundings, but it is also familiar enough so the viewer can relate. 

My small mirror paintings differ significantly from my large, abstract work that explores the coexistence of light and dark, both literally and metaphorically. Although the style of my painting changes, the work is always connected by my interest in opposites and paradoxes. My large abstractions examine black and white; the gold leaf paintings use words that have both negative and positive interpretations; and the Cuba paintings juxtapose beauty in traditionally unattractive spaces. I like the subtle tension these dualities create. 


For more information about the artist, please visit her website.