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Trevor Nickolls

Full Moon - 2010

synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
91.0 x 91.0 cm
EST. $15,000 - $20,000

MP #339


Estate of the Artist, SA


Alie[N]ation - a survey of Ausralian Urban Indigenous Art, Cooee Art Gallery, 2018

The theme of ‘encapsulation’ which began during his art school days in the 1960s became increasingly important to Nickolls from the 1990s onward as he explored the alienation of the individual in an industrialised landscape as a counterpoint to the concept of the ‘Harmony of Nature’. He coined the catchphrase ‘Dreamtime - Machinetime’ to describe the divide between Aboriginal and Western cultures. In ‘Machinetime’ humankind is trapped by its own inventions; a cramped and hostile technological environment where isolated individuals, in cell-like apartments, plug into their television sets, trying to ward off a sense of loss and anxiety as they become increasingly estranged from each other and the earth. ‘Dreamtime’ introduces a relationship to nature that, in keeping with Aboriginal beliefs, is the source of spiritual sustenance and cultural continuity underpinning the necessary conditions for a life affirming and dignified human existence. 


In this particular canvas, these two realities are  juxtaposed with contrasting areas of colour, texture and spatial composition. A language of symbols fills the image; a Rainbow Serpent slides up the side of a building; a dove - symbolising peace - rests on a smiling moon and an angel stands adjacent on a cloud; the agonised profile of an entrapped human searches for the freedom of open space from within the cacophony of high rise buildings. The scene appears peaceful and serene but there is disquiet in the lifeless city below. 


There are several of the artist's signature styles at work in this painting. His depiction of the landscape and sky references traditional desert art without any hint of appropriation while the city with its lifeless buildings is tightly packed, grey and univiting. The image in its entirety evokes a 'Machinetime' metropolis within a 'Dreamtime' landscape.