Tracey Morgan Gallery is pleased to present Edge of Chaos, an exhibition of new works on paper by artist Ben Nixon. This is Nixon’s second exhibition with the gallery and is presented in conjunction with a solo show of paintings by Ralston Fox Smith.
Originally trained as an analog landscape photographer, over the last several years Nixon as shifted his focus to abstract work, first in the darkroom with photograms using various liquids, papers, and light sources, and more recently to acrylic and graphite works on paper which are the focus of this exhibition. Taking inspiration from artists like Jay DeFeo and Frederick Sommer, Nixon straddles several mediums, while maintaining an aesthetic fluidity and continuity throughout his practice.
In the works included in this exhibition, Nixon uses acrylic paint and an air compressor, his initial mark making left partially up to chance. He then adds layers of hand embellishments in graphite and colored pencil, balancing and grounding the abstract shapes. Like the wet plate collodion process and photograms of his earlier work, Nixon is fascinated by the relationship between control and chance and the search for what he calls “balanced chaos.” Drawing inspiration from the natural world, Nixon’s forms are imbued with an electric energy that he counteracts with a subdued color palette and generous negative space.
Ben Nixon attended Sierra Nevada College in California and studied photography at Rockport College in Maine. His photographs have been exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; Oakland Museum of California; Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA; Greenville County Museum of Art, SC; and the Morris Graves Museum, Eureka, CA. His works in the collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA; Boston Public Library, MA; Asheville Art Museum, NC; and The Bolinas Museum, CA. He has received numerous awards, including the Pirkle Jones Foundation Grant. He currently lives and works in Spartanburg, SC.