Marvel Is The Medium: The Work of Nic Coviello


 Though nature as a motif as old as art making itself, it remains a captivating subject. Whether it is viewed through contemplative longing or fearful confrontation, seen as the setting for our lives or as force that threatens them, nature is never far away from our immediate experience. It's curious then that we continue to feel that we both know it and don't. You'd think the subject might be used up now, a topic so well worn and thoroughly turned that there was nothing else to say about it. Yet, artists like Nic Coviello find renewal and joy in this pursuit, making nature feel like a lost acquaintance with whom we've just been auspiciously reunited.


 So Coviello's works tell us that nature is here, by our side, out the window or within our own bodies, ready when we are to engage our attention. What does Coviello mean by nature? There are leaf patterns, grasses, insects, ducks for us to see in his work, all of which are reminiscent of both the sumptuous and austere patterns of nature found in Asian art . But there are also disturbances, splatter patterns, gridlines, interjections from sources that move away from our direct perception of nature toward mechanical and technical interventions.


 These intrusions come from both the 'high' and 'low' technical sides of Coviello's processes. A traditional Japanese screen may be evoked by his use of rice paper or serial vertical panels but he also evokes a video screen in areas of images that break down into pixels. Paint, printing inks and Coviello's methods for employing these materials are every bit as evident as his use of photo silk screens and computer processes. The most direct and indirect means of image fabrication and conjuring are combined in his pieces. Control collides with happenstance, premeditation with impulse and deliberation with a kind of pleasure induced delirium.


 His enthusiasm extends beyond what grows or is formed by natural processes to the tools of his trade and the means of making things. His keen appreciation for touch and texture mix with his fascination for tech toys and tinkering. He marvels at it all. Rapidly cycling from cool shadow to hot light, from computer to brush to print studio, he takes every opportunity to put something down, some fragment of his experience, before it is displaced by another. Coviello's exuberant nature is reflected back again and again by what he makes, manifest as hope and vigor. He is grateful for any method that will aid him in capturing some piece of his experience. Coviello is an artist who seems to be continuously awakening to a new world of possibilities.


 Perhaps the nature viewed here most closely is Coviello's own. His joy in perceiving the world around him through all of his senses is emphatically visible. His zeal in laying out fresh sheets of paper for depositing one idea after another and another, in a rush to get it all down, is everywhere evident in his studio. His own nature displays a glorious enthusiasm for life and the nature he depicts becomes the mirror of his awe over his own existence.


 Susana Jacobson, Philadelphia, 2004