words by Jadynn Wolff
Edited by Adam Hendrik
A letter, by definition, is: “A character representing one or more of the sounds used in speech; any of the symbols of an alphabet”. This is the word defined by the parameters of convention: the English language. In his show Nick Howe brings forth the letter “W“ and questions its origin long enough to pose an array of ideas and observation.
The show had long since been an idea to him but only a dozen attempts at scribing hisown name, and various combinations of letters on sketch-paper were visible. It was as though his plan had started off like most art does: as non-linear thought expressed through preliminary drawings and outlines. It was almost as if letters, just like early human history, could be etched out in rock and later discovered as a beginning vantage point.
Nick explains that like most things in this world, everything must start with a base and a history which we now comfortably place as fact. All of the tangible things that make this world what we know now are subject to this theory. It’s through this process in which Nick examines the letter “W” as an infrastructural idea. Even the one solitary letter, requires the process of creation. He tells me that in order to observe something as simplistic as this one letter ergo, we must take for granted its existence. We accept things for how they are, simply because it is how we were instructed.
Some of his work was brought forth from the early forms of artistic expression which date back to medieval times where art incited scientific discovery and the vice versa. During this period, art and science were considered equal and were conserved to immortalize the world as they knew it, and by proxy, gave us the world we know today - the world in which Nick Howe graciously gives us his retrospective of all the things we thought we knew and didn’t, until now.
“The Formation of the Letter W” is a well-balanced and articulate presentation of the questions we didn’t think to ask about ideas we thought we knew. It was held together by a strong visual aesthetic derived from the feeling of water and referenced things like pools and desaturated beach scenes. Nick paints on wood panels using a mix of mute and vibrant blues grays, and greens. He maintains an easy fluidity between each and every piece.
I contemplated and challenged Nicks work, but it stayed true to his original concept. Nick shares my heart for all things tactile and interactive. He is neither precious nor careful with how his work is displayed. He has a strong affinity for irrelevant flaws and imperfect moments captured in a natural and honest state.“Art should be about those fleeting moments, [the experience] because life is such, it is momentary.“ - Nick Howe