V1 Gallery is pleased to present the upcoming duo exhibition with Nikki Maloof & Danielle Orchard, opening May 12. Under the title What did I know of your days the artists meditate on drawing as medium, mutual inspiration, friendship and love. Last week we shared the interview with Danielle Orchard (read here). Today Nikki Maloof (b. 1985, USA) shares her thoughts about the process, references, studio life (then vs now), animals as vessels for human experience, and reflections of the interior worlds we inhabit in our minds.
V1 Gallery: How did the idea for the exhibition come up?
Nikki Maloof: Dani [Danielle Orchard] and I met in a drawing class in undergrad so the medium has always held a special place in our friendship. We thought it would be interesting to have a show which highlights the enduring role that drawing plays in both of our practices.
How do you spend your days of isolation in Massachusetts?
I just built a studio on our property so luckily that has been a welcome refuge in these past weeks. My days are mostly spent bouncing between the studio, caring for our two children and preparing our garden for the summer.
In your works, we find reflections over intimate interiors, retakes on Dutch seventeenth century still life and vanitas symbols – tilting tables with half empty wine glasses, deadheaded flowers, lemons, forks bending and dead fish staring back at us from the plates. Do you draw from real life objects, photographs or mental images?
The sources for my works are often quite various. I primarily rely on my imagined imagery but I often bring real objects into my studio to paint from as well as a collection of images I find on the internet. Nothing is off limits.
Balancing the naturalistic with the romantic, or even surrealistic, the peaceful atmosphere in these domestic tableaus seems to dissolve. We sense a feeling of tristesse, and elsewhere violence, underneath the surface: “Why can’t we stop violence despite efforts”, as the newspaper reads in on of the works (Squid, 2019). How do the works reflect your stage of life and/or the current world situation?
I often think of my work as paintings of interiors which are a reflection of the interior worlds we inhabit in our minds. In general, I try to strike a balance between the light and the dark emotions when I’m forming a painting but lately I find the work leaning heavily toward the melancholic side of things for obvious reasons. It’s impossible for the current state of things to not find their way in.
Your objects and animals are often assigned anthropomorphic qualities. How do you empathize with your subjects?
The animals in my paintings act as vessels for human experience. I want them to be less about the creature and more about how it can reflect an emotion or relatable experience back at us.
How are you staying in touch with your community, gallery, artist colleagues and relatives during lockdown?
I am one of those strange people who actually like talking on the phone so it’s been a good excuse to bother friends.
Any art, books, music, films that have inspired you or changed your life (during lockdown)?
I always have a tendency to listen to podcasts or the news when I’m in my studio but lately I’ve found that to be so distracting. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks while we have been on lockdown. The public library system has so many to choose from so it’s really a fantastic resource. The past few that I’ve really enjoyed have been Zadie Smith’s “Feel Free”, John Hodgeman’s “Vacationland”, and Bill Bryson’s “The Body”.