Always searching for the magic in an object, Patricia Nix has worked since the early 1950s to create a staggering oeuvre of works of art. The range of her artistic expression and development is inspired by her ironic and psychological interpretations of the material she collects – sometimes tawdry, often strange, and occasionally making reference to her native Texas. From these she creates elaborate constructions and boldly colorful paintings. Patricia Nix: American Baroque showcases the abundance and intricacies of the artist’s work, on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art from August 8th through October 22nd, 2017.
Patricia Nix has been exhibiting her opulent constructions, paintings, and collages since her first solo exhibition in New York City in 1977. She attended the Art Students League, New York University, and The New School in the early 1970s, traveling back and forth between her residences in Texas and New York. Nix relocated permanently to New York City in 1982 at the urging of friends, including Elaine De Kooning. She enjoyed a successful career in New York and her work was the subject of many solo exhibitions, articles, books, and catalogues. Her work was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the National Academy Museum in New York City; the San Antonio Museum of Art, and other institutions as well as many private collections. Nix moved her studio from New York to Palm Beach in 2012.
Patricia Nix: American Baroque features several new and extravagant works as well as a selection of earlier pieces that reveal her artistic development. Nix is considered a spiritual heir to American master collagist Joseph Cornell; hence the exhibition begins with examples of the boxes she’s been creating since the beginning of her career. The gallery then opens up to yield sculptures and assemblage creations that hearken to the works of women artists of Surrealism, who included, in its founding generation, Jacqueline Lamba Breton, Remedios Varo, Leonor Fini, and Meret Oppenheim.
The most recent work in the exhibition, completed in 2017, is The Magic Mountain, a 15-foot tall monumental shaped wooden construction painted gold and filled such objects, including a flag, a bicycle wheel, animal horns, furniture parts, and other detritus. Also just completed is Circus Maximus, an 8-foot sculpture shaped like a hoop skirt with sundry objects dangling from its ribs. Other large-scale objects include a series of ornate Totems dedicated to the memories of family members and paintings from Nix’s Trellis series featuring flower forms, characters from history, Tarot emblems, and bright splashes of color
Nix’s studio is filled with the ephemera she stockpiles such as vintage photographs, discarded dolls, musical instruments, wood fragments, ex-votos, old engravings, ledgers, ribbons, tarot cards, fabric scraps, old greeting cards, and curios of all types. These are the raw materials that find their way into her boxes, collages, paintings, and constructions. Her work could be described as Americana Baroque and is as rich and complex as what we find in the period churches of Italy and Latin America. Nix is a maximalist whose chief processes involve repetition and endless variation. Her artistic impulse can be described as “more is more.”