Visual Art

Artist Nicolas Russell Brings Bold Work to ARKA Living

The exhibit features various paintings that combine a mix of bright colors and simplistic shapes.

By Laura Gillespie May 13, 2016

Sun blue v by artist nicolas russell is5lim

Sun Blue V by artist Nicolas Russell.

On winter days at his home in Seabrook, artist Nicolas Russell, 67, gets busy. Not content to sit at home, he turns the dreariness upside down, and lugs out slabs of wood, canvases and paper to paint with broad strokes and bright, colorful blues, yellows and oranges. Saturday, Russell’s work ends its time on display at ARKA Living in Midtown.

“My studio [is] 100 yards from Galveston Bay,” Russell says. “I’ve got a forest behind me… It’s a very serene, tranquil space and that isolation provides an arena for me to work with art.”

A New York native, Russell moved to Texas in the '70s and studied journalism at the University of Texas, only to drop out a semester before graduation and pursue photography. His photography, mostly portraits, with many in black and white, has appeared in magazines and newspapers across the country, with many on sale for Getty Images.

Thirty years ago Russell then turned to painting, and he says his heavily abstract, geometric style is not so different from photography. “Photography is very literal,” says Russell. “I think there are many parallels with photography [and abstract art] in terms of design, graphics and perception of light and color.”

With its ample light and high walls, ARKA proves the perfect space to showcase Russell’s work. Russell and ARKA owner Lula Azorey have worked together before, and she was eager to give Russell his first solo exhibition in the space. 

Russell’s exhibition isn’t tied by a theme, but instead varies across a wide range of paintings in different sizes, colors and mediums—though, most are made with oil paints. Some, Russell has pumped out along with three or four others in the course of a day. Another, a particularly memorable explosion of color on a tall canvas, was worked on off and on over a period of 30 years. But they all share the same scribbly, color explosion style. “For me, [the artwork] represents life,” says Azorey. “I love all the color that he works with; It’s very quiet, very Nicolas.”

Through May 14. ARKA Living, 4715 Main St. 832-455-9859.

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