By Colin Hambrook
Nick Blinko's fantastical 'Visions of Pope Adrian 37th' are on show at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester until 14 August 2011.
The works fall into three clear styles: illustrations with a biographical element such as the drawing of the London Asylum; written works attributed to characters like Dr Fritz O’Skeenia and an extraordinary series of hyper-detailed abstract ink drawings. These astound with the depth and inventiveness of minute elements they contain. The works are exhibited with several magnifying glasses made available so you can explore the unsettling but extraordinarily beautiful images, in greater depth.
The eye, unable to stay in one place, is led across the composition to random, minute particles and fractions of imagery. There is something incredibly hypnotic about the way you get drawn deeper and deeper into the artists' psychic journey. Figures of transformation loom large: skulls and demonic figures; strange architectural features leaning at odd perspectives. The works remind you over and again of how fragile and impermanent life is.
Blinko's fantastical drawings are a celebration of the act of getting lost. It is a bit like venturing out on a moonlit night through unknown territory, with no compass or intention other than to enjoy the critical sense of heightened awareness that being lost in the dark can give you.
Each drawing contains a thousand and one stories. You could fill several books with descriptions of what Blinko has set down mysteriously on the paper, from the visions he has found in the dark wood, that is his mind unraveled.
Alongside more formal drawings depicting key places in the artists’ life, there is also a series of text-based works. Many of these contain stream of consciousness writing that is so tiny, that even with a magnifying glass some of the script is hardly recognizable as such. Several elements are critical of psychiatry. In one piece, referring to labeling, the artist states that “I can confirm the notion that psychiatry as a set up, is a grim parody of the [mental] illness itself.”
Blinko has made the decision that as difficult as the obstacles are, that life has thrown at him, that he is going to live it with all the intensity that he can bring, without apology or concession. I applaud him wholeheartedly. His work lives on in the imagination long after you have witnessed it. His originality surpasses so much of what stands for contemporary arts practice. Nick Blinko's 'Visions of Pope Adrian 37th is on at Pallant House Gallery is on show until 14 August 2011. You can find a selection of drawings on the Outside In website at www.outsidein.org.uk/Nick-Blinko
Also on show at Pallant House until 2 October 2011, is the work of Frida Kahlo – a Mexican artist from the first half of the 20th century. Her stunning allegorical portraits have inspired many disabled artists over the last thirty years, since her painting came to prominence and began to be shown this side of the Atlantic. Here, is a one-off opportunity to see Masterpieces from The Gelman Collection from both Frida and her husband and fellow political activist, Diego Rivera. Don’t miss!