Nice’s new single image paintings include images of beer cans, sneakers, Ray Bans and color crayons, exploring the impressive and noteworthy markers of our collective material culture. These works build on his early abstract expressionist brushwork and coloration, carefully cultivated to articulate his interest in quotidian elements of everyday life. In Nice’s paintings the everyday becomes monumental, the disposable becomes iconic and American consumer culture is served up for millennial eyes.
Nice’s tongue-in-cheek approach turns Chuck Taylor sneakers into totems that reveal a narrative, and articulate the artist’s keen interest in the recognition of symbols and their compelling power. Beyond the surface, these objects we encounter every day suggest a poignant critique of contemporary America and our role in the greater creation of culture. Nice’s icons are presented crumpled and used. In one example, an iconic red, white and blue Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can is dented and discarded. The resulting irregular angles in the surface allow viewers to examine the object, and its ubiquity in America, through a lens that is both critical and nostalgically wistful. The paintings do not show the clean, crisp and manicured image presented in advertising, but objects that are marked with use, with beauty and poetry in the folds of gum wrappers and translucent plastic packaging. Don Nice takes Edward Hopper’s early mandate for the isolation of objects, and Wayne Thiebaud’s frothy luscious surfaces, and transforms them into his own signature series of images that play with the symbols of contemporary culture, and dig beneath the familiar surface to give presence to that which we usually give little attention.