Andrew Nicholls I Porcellini self portrait as Tobias Smollett


AGWA Curator Robert Cook

  WA Now – Andrew Nicholls – Hyperkulturemia

  15 December 2018 – 18 March 2019 | FREE






Andrew Nicholls’ art practice employs a camp aesthetic to critique the power dynamics underpinning various artistic legacies. His works attempt to draw attention to histories of imperialism, colonialism, marginalisation and objectification that informed aesthetic tropes (particularly within the decorative arts) that we may commonly take for granted. He is especially concerned with periods of cultural transition during which Western civilisation’s stoic aspirations were undone by base desires, fears or compulsions.

Nicholls’ WA Now solo exhibition will showcase his recent Hyperkulturemia series for Western Australian audiences. The major focus of his practice for the past five years, Hyperkulturemia is the outcome of a series of residencies in Italy between 2014-2017, which allowed Nicholls to retrace the 18th century iteration of The Grand Tour. A rite-of-passage that saw young aristocratic men complete their formal education via an extended journey to Italy to view the remnants of classical antiquity and the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the Grand Tour spawned the Neoclassical movement that would dominate Western aesthetics for a century.

We owe the Tour some of the most sublime aesthetic achievements of the 18th century, yet at the same time as it was informing this remarkable cultural legacy, it was for the most part undertaken by extremely privileged, spoilt youths who were effectively on an extended gap year, travelling for the first time free of their families and the oppressive atmosphere of aristocratic society, with few financial constraints. As such the Tourists behaved (for the most part) appallingly, drinking, gambling and seducing their way across central Europe, many fathering illegitimate children, dying of venereal disease, or locked in debtors’ prison.

Nicholls’ Hyperkulturemia works explore this disjuncture between the Enlightenment’s sombre idealisation of Classicism, and the repressed, yet unruly desires of the British aristocracy. The series’ title refers to the medically spurious condition of ‘Stendhal Syndrome’, allegedly experienced by Tourists overcome by the splendours of high Renaissance art. The exhibition works aim to evoke a similar sense of disruptive corporeality, while reflecting the semi-mythical position that Italy continues to hold in the Western psyche, as a place where stoicism and reason give way to sensuality, excessive emotion, and potentially-fatal desire.

Andrew Nicholls The Last Judgement 2016-2018 (detail)     Andrew Nicholls Mangia Gelato (Piazza del Popolo) 2015-2018


ABOUt the artisT

Andrew Nicholls is an Australian/British artist, writer, and curator whose practice explores how power has been expressed through aesthetics, historically. He is especially concerned with periods of cultural transition during which Western civilisation's stoic aspirations were undone by base desires, fears or compulsions, and with 18th century Britain's fascination with, and paranoia of, other cultures and 'othered' identities.

Initially drawing-based, his practice now incorporates a range of other mediums, in particular ceramics and photography. He especially draws inspiration from heritage sites and museum collections, and has coordinated and participated in residencies at numerous iconic heritage locations across Western Australia, England, and Italy.

Nicholls has exhibited across Australia, Southeast Asia, Italy and the United Kingdom. He has been the recipient of two Creative Development Fellowships from the Western Australian Government, and undertaken commissions for organisations in Australia and the United States, including his $250,000 ceiling mural for the City of Perth Library. His work is represented in collections including Artbank, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the City of Perth, and the Kedumba Collection of Australian Drawings.



WA Now logo



Andrew Nicholls

I Porcellini (self-portrait as Tobias Smollett) 2015-2018

large format photograph

dimensions variable

© the artist

Andrew Nicholls

The Last Judgement 2016-2018 (detail)

archival ink pen on watercolour paper

12 panels able to be rearranged into two alternate configurations (one panel shown)

76 x 57 cm each

Artbank collection

© the artist

Andrew Nicholls

Mangia Gelato (Piazza del Popolo) 2015-2018

large format photograph

dimensions variable

© the artist





Back to top