Nick Kramer

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What Is My Work About? 

Rooted in the formal and emulating the organic, my practice metabolizes materials in ways both beautiful and virulent. In my newest work I make large painted styrofoam collages which I infuse with liquid resin, causing them to break down, distort, and then harden in a new state. During this process they boil like the toxic sludge they are; I am left with a distillation of the paint, forms, cuts, and other decisions I have made. My personal and intuitive ?making? process solidifies into an object that I have never seen before, and can approach as if it were ?found.? Spanning painting, sculpture, and collage, these works are abstract, materialist, personal, and evocative. Like a liver full of lead or a tropical fish in a dirty ocean, I imagine them as abject organs which slowly become what they process, creating a bizarre superorganism that is human, color, and chemical.

 

Artist Statement

I see my studio practice as an organ. Existing between sculpture, painting and collage it is a special extension of myself for processing material and ideas. In much of what I make there is a moment of rejuvenation where the piece is broken down and remade new to me, as if found. Usually this takes the form of casting and/or painting. I use paint as sculptural tool with which I can simultaneously ruin and revive a particular object. When I employ casting in my work, it is not to multiply but to reconstitute and distort what I am working with. Although my process is personal, involved and laborious, I know it is done when the work feels found to me.

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At MetroPCS I wanted the large central cushion, The Quick Brown Fox, to be absurd with abject aspirations—simultaneously soft, friendly, and distorted like a swollen limb. The hanging sculpture Telemers was made by finger-painting an array of bent candles I softened using my car as an oven in the sun and then further manipulated by having them cast in aluminum at an industrial foundry. This sculpture serves as a diagram illustrating my understanding of cellular division and aging. Similarly, the wall works in this show were made by painting on malleable forms I sent to the same foundry knowing they would be deformed in the casting process. I imagine these to be landscapes from an inner-space exploration where cells and bodily processes are gross and spectacular.

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Waxen Gourd is the first cast-aluminum piece I made. The color is a specialty stain manufactured as a patina for commercial sculptors but has also become popular with graffiti writers. I think of its scale as being “vegetable,” “organ,” and “hand-held.”

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Flip n’ Fuck is one of the first pieces I made thinking specifically about bodies. If chairs describe a body, this type of chair describes a body in a very specific posture. I waited years to find a chair like this, and when I finally did, I coated it in glue and, rolling it in a dune of dust outside my studio, massaged a coating of funk onto it.

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Touchy Top is an aluminum cast of a table that I had smeared with plasticine and added “handleables” to. The screwdriver lifts out, the asthma inhaler is moveable and ergonomically designed to fit in one’s hand. Making this piece was a meditation on touch. Although mummified in aluminum, it is intended to mimic a body shaped by various impacts and incidents as it becomes distorted and weird with age.

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As a little kid I assumed that my chest was a hollow cavity with a few loose organs resting at the bottom, and that the remaining space was where food and drink would pile up until it came out. For what felt like years, I tried to understand the difference in

volume between my shit and piss and my estimate for how much empty space was inside me. Recently, the perplexing nature of my own guts has come back to the forefront of my thoughts in the studio.

Without proper precautions, polyester resin absorbs through your skin as a liquid and through your lungs as a fume. Resin has a particular taboo fascination because it is constituted of stuff so foreign to what constitutes us yet, notoriously, it can imbed itself deep in our organs where it does no good. Styrofoam seems to exist in a parallel life- cycle which bizarrely mimics things organic. I use it as a sort of anti-flesh, a stand-in for biomass. I imagine it to be like skin or fat in the way it cuts and takes on faint impressions when leaned into.

For this newest body of work, I make painted collages out of insulation foam into which I introduce polyester resin, replacing the foam and leaving the scalded paint behind. With this fossilized version of my original collage in hand, I am able to return to it as of it were a found object, fresh and new to me.

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Egghead Broke-A-Yolk is an idea about goo in a brittle case, like a yolk and its shell, or a skull and its brain.

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General Tree wears olive green in a counter-cultural stance. I was thinking about the acidic duality of this color; in part the uniform of inter-human warfare, more quietly, the desire to fade out of civilization and into the forest. My thoughts when making General Tree were a blend of Dancehall Reggae and the film, Predator, where an invisible alien is distinguishable from the jungle only when it bleeds fluorescent yellow blood onto the leafy canopy.

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Clown Town is melted stars and stripes. I wanted to make an ominous cartoon of an irreverent and out of control cell. A Toon flag bathed in chem-dip, turned ragged and weird. It even grew a dick!

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I really want to go to Japan. Flirting with bubble lettering, signage and branding, Shrimp Chip is a fantasy of processed foods: equal part chemicals, color, and font. I imagine it as a giant snack chip in the form of the logo on the bag of a non-existent brand of Shrimp Flavored Chips.

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Koi is really a fat old goldfish. Imagining what my guts look like is like catching a glimpse of a huge fish in a small murky pond. I am interested in fish because I see them as I see my work: both alien and of this world, fascinatingly alive but not like us.

 

CV

Education:

University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Art. Los Angeles, CA, MFA, 2008

Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY, BA. 2001 One Person Exhibitions:

2013
The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over The Lazy Dog And Went To Sleep Forever, METROPCS, Los Angeles, CA.

2011
“The Thing About This Town”, Anthony Greaney, Boston., MA .

2009
“Mobilin X”, Laural Gitlen/Small A Projects, New York, NY.

2008
Thesis Exhibition, USC Roski Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

2007
“Nick Kramer in the Roski Gallery”, USC Roski Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

“WTFTF”, USC Roski Gallery. Los Angeles, CA.

Group Exhibitions:

2014
METROPCS Showcase, Freehand Hotel, Miami, FL. “DuckRabbit”, Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA.

2013
“The Privilege Show”, Control Room, Los Angeles, CA.

2012
“Hot Time Tub Machine”, CANADA, New York, NY.

2011
“Painting Show/Sculpture Garden”, Iceberg Projects, Chicago, IL. Curated by Andrew Greene.

“On Forgery: Is One Thing Better Than Another?”, LA><ART, Los Angeles, CA. Curated by Andrew Berardini and Lesley Moon.

“Who’s The Father of Learning?” Nick Kramer and Josh Mannis, Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

“Americans and Apricots”, Hillary Crisp, London. Curated by Justin Beal. “Anthony Greaney, Samson, DAN GRAHAM”, Cottage Home, Los Angeles, CA.

2010
“Last Minute Intervention”, Shoshana Wayne/SW2, Santa Monica, CA. Curated by Marichris Ty.

“Air Pressure”, Glendale College Art Gallery, Glendale, CA. Curated by Roger Dickes.

2009
“The Awful Parenthesis”, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Curated by Aram Moshayedi.

“Boothfle Booth – Booth: Deux Doox – Hollywood Biennial”, Pauline, Los Angeles, CA. “Everything Must Go”, Kreiling &, Los Angeles, CA.

2008
“8 Is Enough”, USC Roski Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

2007
“Raise High The Roof Beam”, Rainbow Club. Chicago, IL.

2006
“I DO YOU DO ME”, USC Roski Gallery. Los Angeles, CA.

Group Show, CANADA, New York, NY. Curated by Joe Bradley.

2003
“Bucket O’ Drawings”, The ATM Gallery, Miami Beach, FL.

2001
“Need You to Be There, Angles of Incidence, the Volatile Real”, U.B.S. Gallery, Red Hook, NY. Organized by the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies.

Projects:

2012
“Pure Smoke Culture” Anthony Greaney, Boston, MA. (Curator)*

2011
“Chinese Takeout”, Art In General, New York, NY. Organized by Jason Losh.

2010

“Two Sculptures for Iko Iko”, Iko Iko, Los Angeles, CA.

2009
“The Hybrid Monster With Two Heads”, The Mandrake, Los Angeles, CA.

“All Things Being Equal”, Kathleen Neeley Macomber Travel Grant Exhibition, USC Roski Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

Awards:

California Community Foundation Fellowship For Visual Artists, 2012

Leon Levy Foundation Grant, 2010

Kathleen Neeley Macomber Travel Grant, 2008

Bibliography:

A Year Of Change And Range In Local Galleries”, Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, December 24, 2013

“Art Class”, Catherine Wagley, LA Weekly, June 28-July4 2013

“What’s up in Local Art Galleries”, Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, January 1, 2013.

“Short List: Hot Tub Time Machine”, The New Yorker, January, 2013

“Painting Show/Sculpture Garden Catalog”, John Schmidt, 2011

“Americans and Apricots”, RG, Time Out London, April, 2011

“Two Untitled Texts By Michael Ned Holte on the Occasion of the Exhibition “The Thing About this Town” at Anthony Greaney, Boston, MA, Michael Ned Holte, 2011.

“Boothle Booth-Booth:Deux Doox – The Hollywood Biennale,” Michael Ned Holte, Artforum, April 2009

Sourcebook, published by the USC Roski School of Fine Art, 2008