An onslaught of bright, contagious colors surround you upon entering Nicolas Touron’s latest exhibit, “Play Ground,” at Stux Gallery. While the art and imagery are neatly contained in paintings and pop-outs, they also connote an explosion of thoughts and feelings reminiscent of any childhood. I expect little connection between my upbringing and the French-born artist, but as I dove into his deeply nostalgic paintings I found familiar images that I thought I’d never see again (such as igloos composed of sugar cubes).
LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN AT HOME
With only a quick first glance, Touron’s paintings seem very childlike and innocent, but as I looked closer I noticed dark and disturbing subject matter tearing through on almost every occasion. One of the paintings depicts a black and white chess board (innocent enough, right?), but lying lifelessly on nearly every tile is a corpse in a body bag labeled “U.S.” Now the social and political implications of this scene are virtually endless; however, what’s clear is that this is not a child’s game anymore: there’s something much larger at risk. Another painting displays a small scene of homicidal penguins.
Touron’s artwork on display at Stux Gallery. Photo: Courtesy of the Gallery
While Touron’s paintings are embedded with subtle hints of violence and shocking reality, they are so deeply enshrouded in these childlike and nostalgic images that the cartoonish brutality is barely even noticeable. Just like a “Where’s Waldo” picture book, I was really forced to search for the violence in each painting and was sometimes hard-pressed to find it. These scenes of hidden hostility are exactly what lead me to believe there’s a strong subtext implanted within the exhibit’s title, “Play Ground.” Instead of using the more colloquial word “playground” that’s largely associated with children’s playgrounds, Touron decides to break it up into two words; this both literally and metaphorically tears through the childish setting to expose the ugly truth underneath.
The paintings themselves are richly colored with a flurry of carnival pastels and shades that border luminescence; they are also quite sizeable at times making the detail both stunning and intricate. Each painting is so full of nostalgic imagery that it takes a while to digest. However, the most dominant visual theme throughout many of Touron’s pieces are these twirling, swirling, sponge-like columns that look more like trees from a Dr. Seuss book than anything else. They make me miss first grade.
- Stux Gallery – Nicolas Touron “Play Ground” – January 24, 2013 – February 23 2013, Tues – Sat: 10am – 6pm [Price range of atworks around $4,000]
Article Written by Eric Rydin