Ornaments of Suffering

Ornaments of Suffering

Nigel Nolan

From April 9th to May 4th
Opening April 11th, 2008 from 7-10pm

The generation born in the eighties, and coming of age in the nineties, has become the first generation whose understanding of sexual relations is inextricably linked to the risk of infection. Through sexual education initiatives and popular culture, the awareness of HIV has become intertwined with sexual awakening. This knowledge has seeped not only into this generation’s psyche, but also into the ranks of religion and big business.

Ornaments of Suffering focuses on highlighting some of the influential forces in the sex lives of Nolan’s cohort. A suite of delicate and tender portraits of men wearing rosaries conveys the risk and pressures of anti condom statements voiced by the Catholic Church. Through expressive floral paintings, the dichotomy of flowers as symbols of both celebration and tragedy is linked to the sentiments associated with mixed status (HIV positive/negative) relationships. The Scenes of Filth paintings reveal a veiled fear, darkness and anger within the anti condom pornography industry. Presented to us as theatres of blood and violence, Scenes of Filth force us consider the consequences of sexual recklessness and the responsibility of its audience. Black and white figures of faceless men in suits allude to the stature of pharmaceutical executives and their power. By painting these scenes, Nolan is turning the lens for us, allowing us to consider the impact of groups who advocate unsafe sex and who control the dissemination of the products and education that control HIV. Nolan`s work reflects on the current discussions surrounding consensual sex, reminding us that they are no longer only about lust, pleasure and reproduction, but also consist of trust, fear, and self preservation.

Ornaments of Suffering, produced between Buenos Aires and New York City highlights Nolan’s ability to explore multiple facets in his personal practice as well as looking at the impact on his subjects across international experience.

Nigel Nolan is a 2006 Ontario College of Art and Design medal winner and graduate. His work is included in the collection of the Agnes of Etherington Museum and has been selected to be a part of Carte Blanche Volume 2, a survey of contemporary Canadian painting by the Magenta Foundation. Ornaments of Suffering marks Nolan’s first solo exhibition with LE Gallery.