Artist Statement

During the past few years I have had the privilege of visiting some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth including California’s Sequoia National Forest, Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Parks, the red rocks of Sedona Arizona, the tough deserts of Canyonlands and Arches in Utah, Monument Valley in Navajo Nation, and of course the Grand Canyon.
I was awestruck with the beauty and silences of these places and deeply inspired to create a number of new paintings and films which attempt to capture the essence of what I felt both as an artist and as a human being.
I am increasingly aware of the threats to these landscapes, not just in the short term, but in the future, as the effects of climate change begin to alter rain patterns, glaciers and local ecologies in ways we are only just beginning to comprehend.
My paintings are part of my extended homage to nature and are my abstract impressions of colour, mystery, and the spirit of place.
My recent paintings have been hugely influenced by the winter here in New York State... frozen waterfalls, ice, snow drifts and landscapes blazing in winter hues.

Technical Notes
I continue to use the finest oil paints I can find and in 2008, I was excited to visit the world’s only windmill dedicated to producing artist grade pigments from natural rocks at ‘De Cat’ windmill in Zaanse Schans in Holland. I have incorporated some of these beautiful colours into my latest paintings.
Surfaces continue to be archival grade gesso panels imported from Texas. They are manufactured from sustainable forests.

Artist Exhibitions

2015 Solo Exhibition, Beard Gallery, Cortland, NY, USA
2014 Member Greater Ithaca Art Trail, Ithaca, NY, USA
Certificate of Excellence, Palm Art Award, Leipzig, Germany
2011 Group Exhibition, Red Dot Miami, Florida, USA
2010 Listed in Who's Who in Visual Art, 2010/2011
2009 Group Exhibition, Slippery Jacks, Dorking, Surrey.
2008 Awarded Certificate of Excellence, Palm Art Award 2008.
Group Exhibition, de-Fined Art, Esher, Surrey, UK
Group Exhibition, Kilnhanger Arts, Surrey, UK
Touring Group Exhibition: British Modern Masters, UK
Group Exhibition, Art Domain Gallery, Liepzig, Germany
2007 Solo Exhibition Arteconte, Paris. France.
Group Exhibition, Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London. UK
Group Exhibition, art-file Gallery, Bicester, UK
2006 Solo Exhibition Gallery238, Dorking,UK
Group Exhibition, Edinburgh Art Fair
Group Exhibition, Great Art Fair, Alexandra Palace, London.UK
2005 Group Exhibition, Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation Center.
Athens, GA, USA
Solo Exhibition, Gallery238, Dorking, England.
Marziart Internationale Gallerie, Hamburg, Germany.
2004 Museum of Art, Arad, Romania.
Group Exhibition: Castello Svevo, Porto Recanati, Italy.
Solo Exhibition, Gallery238, Dorking, England
2003 4th Florence Biennale, Florence Italy
Group Exhibition, Holyoke Center, Harvard University.
Cambridge, MA, USA.
Group Exhibition, Gold Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
Solo Exhibition, Montserrat Gallery, New York, USA.
2002 Solo Exhibition, Gallery 238, Dorking, England.
Solo Exhibition, Greenwich Village, New York, USA
2001 Solo Exhibition, Gallery 238, Dorking, England
1977 Group Exhibition, London Hospital Medical College, London, UK
1975 Group Exhibition, London Hospital Medical College, London, UK


Artist Publications

From a short essay by William Zimmer (contributing critic for the New York Times) November 2002
...everything Down produces connects up with our common emotional experience no matter how distant the inspiration.
In his literature he quotes Rothko's observation that the painting is an unexpected revelation to the artist. Rothko created fields of light and Down uncannily brings in light with an engraver's precision. But the two artists share an ability to reveal a sense of transcendence.

Extract from "The Visionary Abstractions of Nicholas Down come to Soho."
Gallery&Studio Magazine, Feb/March 2003

There is something special, something rarefied, in the peculiarly ambient light of Scotland as it emanates from the moody sky and animates the surface of the surrounding sea, that inspires some of our most profoundly gifted modern painters. In the 1950's Jon Schueler was lured by that light to the degree that he left New York City when it was the nexus of the Abstract Expressionist movement, taking up residence in a small secluded town in the Western Highlands, where he produced his greatest work.
More recently, another fine abstract artist, Nicholas Down, had an exhibition of paintings inspired by his spiritual kinship with Abstract Expressionism, as well as by his travels to Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. These paintings, like those of his predecessor Schueler, are products as much of his engagement with art history as of his direct experience of nature. For like Schueler, Down, who was born in Kampala, Uganda, in 1957, and now resides in England, is a scholar and an intellectual as well as a painter. He has studied the writings , as well as the works, of masters like Paul Klee, De Vinci, Cézanne, van Gogh, and Gauguin in the course of formulating his own aesthetic objectives.
Down's new paintings differ from those of Schueler in that their overall mood is mysteriously nocturnal, rather than a transcription of daylight skies.
More exactly, their forms suggest night skies, shadowy land masses and broad expanses of sea. Yet even while they are dramatically evocative of such natural elements, they function autonomously in purely abstract terms with their horizontal streaks of deep blue and violet, enlivened by luminous areas of red and white that play off strikingly against the darker, more sombre hues. The drama of light and darkness in Down's paintings often makes one think of J.M.W Turner's tinted steam, as well as the eerie nocturnal landscapes and seascapes of the eccentric American visionary Albert Pinkham Ryder. Woefully ignored in his lifetime but later much admired by many abstract painters, Ryder once said I saw nature springing into life upon my dead canvas. It was better than nature, for it was vibrating with the thrill of new creation.

Down's work also calls to mind John Constable, the great English romantic, whose scientific observations of nature included sketches of cloud formations, and studies of the effect of light and atmosphere on sky, water, and land. Indeed Down's use of white pigment against darker color masses recalls the white daubs, applied with a palette knife, that critics of his time referred to as Constable's snow. Down, however, appears to proceed more intuitively in the manner of his Abstract Expressionist predecessors, creating his compositions with bold gestures intended not so much to duplicate the effects of nature as to convey a sense of its underlying forces and energies.
Indeed, the temperament and subjective preferences of the individual viewer determine the degree of representation to be read into any given painting by Nicholas Down, making his work successful on several levels simultaneously.
Encountering the work of this painter for the first time in his recent solo show at Montserrat Gallery, one was aware of having made an important discovery. One can only anticipate future exhibitions by Nicholas Down with pleasure.

Maurice Taplinger. GALLERY & STUDIO, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2003

Comments by John Mendelsohn, Artist and Writer. (December 2002)

My meeting with Nicholas Down began with looking at the work ready for his upcoming New York exhibition. The delicate nuances of the painting handling was unexpected, despite my having seen reproductions, and is one of the really distinctive qualities of the work. Nicholas has wonderful feel for a kind of drawing with paint, achieved through a number of refined techniques. The works which takes fullest advantage of this are those that allow the pigments' translucency to reveal a layering of biomorphic forms.

Extract from Surrey Life Magazine, July 2003

For many years, Down spent time in Scotland, where he discovered in the quality of light
“a perfect foil for an exploration of the mystical.”
The link he forges between direct observation and abstract expression is a hallmark of his work, and his technical mastery coupled with felicitous improvisation enables him to realise a rare intensity of depth and meaning. In the richly sensuous blends of colour, there is a present sense of vastness, of sky, of light, but always also of what cannot be expressed in words. It is as if the artist is reaching out to paint what is unseen, but almost unattainable, as Plato’s chained men sat watching the shadows on the wall of the cave.
Yet the brilliance of each manifestation connects directly with our simple response of delight and wonder at a vision which both reveals and transcends the natural world-its skies, its colour, its dimensions, its emotions-evoking what we sense must be beyond it. In Down’s extravagant yet precise harmony of hues one instinctively reads the spiritual, a revelation of the infinite and unknown-that which, as T.S Eliot put it, has been ‘lost, and found, and lost again and again.’ Each painting is like a window out of this world, liberating the mind through what is familiar, towards a mystical harmony that is something more than a dream.


Artist Collections

Nicholas Down's critically acclaimed paintings have become highly sought after and are now held in private collections in the USA, the UK, Germany, Italy and the Far East. His collectors come from all walks of life and include award winning Broadway and West End composers, theatre & film producers, lyricists, musicians, actors, singers, conductors, writers, company CEOs & VPs, photographers, physicians, psychotherapists, ordained ministers, psychiatrists and many others.


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