MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2013
Artist StatementThe figure is the starting point and lodestone for my work. Divorced from explicit narrative context or traditional portraiture, the figure can become an open-ended format for discovery, a jumping off point that allows for virtually limitless variation and invention. My paintings draw from a particular strain of artistic thought that focuses on the primacy of psyche or ‘presence’ in the work, the creation of which provides meaning for, and sense of relation to, the work. In confrontation with the past and articulated through the lenses of history, mythology, religion, literature, and ultimately, the uncertain nature of the human condition, my work strives for a median between the hieratic and the intuitive/expressive. Through a number of means, from brushed and drawn line and tone to intentional and associative ‘accidental’ applications of paint, my paintings suggest heads and figures that are often revealed only partially or in a fragmented state. In some paintings, single figures and heads are captured in an unsettled posture of deformation and reformation, while in others, multiple figures are implied, overlapping and ambiguous, inextricably bound together.
Nicholas Cairns, born in 1976 and raised in Haverford, Pennsylvania attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he graduated with a BA in Religion in 1998. His artistic pursuits developed after college when he studied sculpture and drawing at the New York Studio School under the tutelage of the Canadian-American painter/sculptor Bruce Gagnier and the sculptor Christopher Cairns (his father). He subsequently studied painting under the Dutch painter and professor Charles Stegeman at Haverford College. He has lived, worked, and shown his work in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, where he currently resides.