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Nicholas Jolly - Solo Exhibition

Sarah Myerscough Fine Art

15th April - 8th May, 2010

Sarah Myerscough Fine Art is pleased to announce the long-overdue return to the

London art scene of Nicholas Jolly. This will be his first solo London exhibition since


A graduate of the Royal Academy Schools, Jolly gained an early reputation in the

1980s and 90s with dark, brooding paintings that might be stylistically associated with

the robust figuration that was merging from Germany and Scotland at the time. Since

then his fierce imagination and mastery of colour and form has led to his work being

acquired by public institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

and Osaka Contemporary Art and Culture Centre, not to mention a plethora of private

collectors. He has also won numerous awards including two Pollock-Krasner

Foundation grants (1995 and 2009) and a Susan Kasen Summer Scholarship (1994).

Although he has never ceased painting entirely, for the first five years of the new

millennium Jolly’s creative energies were largely channeled into co-founding a

satirical gentleman’s quarterly, The Chap magazine, reinventing himself as an alter-

ego Vic Darkwood, self-proclaimed ‘anarcho-dandy’.

The themes and photomontage-based imagery of Nicholas Jollys current paintings

are clearly influenced by his magazine work, but also has a lineage that can be

traced back through the techniques and concerns of Pop Art and Surrealism. Taking

idealised images of post-war British citizens, gleaned from 1950s’ copies of Picture

Post and other vintage magazines, Jolly creates images that question a naïve faith in

the perfectibility of the future. Scenes of suburban bliss and utopian housing projects

are turned on their heads by the introduction of dissonant pictorial elements. In

Premonition of a Plague, what appears at first sight to be monstrous viral spores

looming over the city, in a scene reminiscent of 1950s Science Fiction, turn out to be

relatively innocuous pollen particles as seen under an electron microscope. This

disconnection between perceived threat and mundane reality mocks our risk averse

age and the constant warnings of imminent threat that can be used as a form of

social control. However, if at any stage this critique of modern life looks like

becoming oppressive or macabre, Jolly immediately off-sets this with playfulness and

humour, and an uplifting palette that contrasts monochromes against a vibrant use of


Top Image: A Message From Our Leader, 2008. Oil on Canvas, 254 x 173 cm

Bottom Image: Premonition of a Plague, 2010. Oil on Canvas, 193 x 163 cm