Michael Nicholls

Running around town
Running around town 1986
oil on canvas
131 x 126cm
Artwork: 304

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Brief biography

Michael Nicholls has been exhibiting since 1982, when, as a member of the Roar Studio collective in Fitzroy, Melbourne, he was included in their opening show. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne since 1986 and, since the late 1980s, has had works purchased for the Allens collection.

His early paintings and sculptures – mainly interpretations of the figure – were influenced by Indigenous art, especially totemic New Guinea sculpture. Their 'Art Brut' style was typical of the Roar group at that time. He has nine paintings in the Allens collection: the larger works are Running round the town, 1986; Beating the heat, 1991; and the most recent purchase, Dusk time, 1999.

About the works

Dusk time is from a series of works that reveals the artist's changed approach to painting – a movement away from figures and movement, to compositions emphasising line, space and balance. This direct and stylised treatment of isolated objects – a glass, a bottle, a chair seemingly suspended in space – is a departure from the crowded, busy early canvases of the 1980s, yet hinted at in the lone diving figure in Beating the heat, 1991, and in an exhibition of paintings titled Table Talk 1995. While Dusk time can be considered within the tradition of still life painting, equally its directness, and the simple, flattened planes of colour as a means of creating spatial relationships within the composition, can be read as a comment on that legacy. Focusing on an ordinary everyday object in this way, the artist evokes a certain uneasiness – the glass, bottle or chair confronting the viewer suggests an absence, loneliness; even despair. In this respect, the recent series can be considered a poignant comment on social alienation.

Works in the Allens collection

Running around town 1986
oil on canvas, 131 x 126cm
Artwork: 304

Untitled 1986
oil on paper, 46 x 41cm
Artwork: 305

Russell Street car crash 1987
oil on linen, 131 x 110cm
Artwork: 406

The football match 1988
oil on canvas, 103 x 65cm
Artwork: 470

25km from Silverton 1988
oil on linen, 65 x 65cm
Artwork: 499

Beating the heat 1991
oil on linen, 198 x 182cm
Artwork: 813

Dusk time 1999
oil on linen, 150 x 100cm
Artwork: 932