In search of iconographic realism
Nicolás Radic’s pictorial production is rooted in oil painting and recreating everyday objects realistically by reinterpreting and taking control of the pictorial tradition of the technique. He also does this by giving a renovated outlook to the materials, which in their actual context aren’t very aesthetically pleasing, thus seeking to create a unique iconographic language.
Every painter, or artist, starts with doubt. Diverse questions about what to paint, what to create or how to communicate. In Radic’s case, it was something rather complex, but that he figured out in face of the impression that a trip to Europe had left on him, where both the role and form of paint immediately caught his eye. That was how he began to experiment with elements and techniques that he was drawn to and that he ended up being the most comfortable with. It was a natural process which responded to an impulse, explains the painter, since for him, showing a material through its folds and direct presentation became one of his basic aesthetic interests. His work consists of a constant search to replicate materials in a realistic way, while including a particular stance in his work.
Oil paint became his preferred technique due to its flexibility, since it provides a type of unique pigment because of its color range and its historic importance. In the words of Radic, “it is very interesting to work with such a classic medium and make it contemporary. Furthermore, the public feels comfortable with such a well-known medium that also presents something new.” Painting is a way to explore the possibilities that exist to develop his art and his main interest, capturing light, which he manages to do by taking many pictures of a single object to capture the interaction it has with the lighting.
Therefore, photography is essential, since reflective materials can’t be pictorially recreated in a natural setting; at the same time, photography, since it has a static image, can capture a certain light and its effect on the objects that dominate his creative studies. For example, with aluminum, each painting represents a specific moment that isn’t necessarily made up of just one photograph. “Every object can become an inspiration,” says Radic.
Using an element requires a lot of research, which is why Nicolás Radic’s interest lies in developing a finished study for each one of the objects in order to look at them again, and thus be able to transform daily materials into something more, completely decontextualizing them and giving them a new space, redefining them through his painting. “It’s because plastic, junk or aluminum are never seen as such, since as daily objects they are often bound to disappear, or have an ephemeral use,” he explains.
The first material that he worked with was plastic, a theme that he developed in university; later aluminum, which for him, was a type of revelation; and later he used scraps, which he happened to stumble upon. While always trying to dabble in new materials, Nicolás Radic follows a line of work in which he’s not interested in recreating the landscapes that his objects are inserted in, but rather he looks for them –these, as things– within the city in order to remove them from their reality and give them a new vision while trying to pictorially recover that he can. This is how he manages to take the “anecdote” from objects. He presents them in a cold manner that doesn’t talk about anything beyond the aesthetics themselves. “The work in itself is decontextualized and lets the material and the textures speak for themselves,” he explains while commenting how he must always be on alert since he is constantly looking for those objects.
Although his work could be considered as realist work, he isn’t engrossed in faithfully depicting reality; he is concerned with making a painting and focusing on the materials, not making photographic hyperrealism. It is a taking back of the best attributes of each one of the objects, which in turn are complemented by finishing touches in the digital mock-ups and his vision upon painting them. Through this, Nicolás defines himself as a hyperrealist, since he thinks that there is fidelity to reality in his compositions and what is meant by it. However, he stresses that it is his “own interpretation of reality,” and not a representative copy of the pictures he takes. Among other techniques, he modifies the lights that reflect the objects, or the need to focus on a certain color range and, at the same time, his liking towards painting somewhat out of focus, since it gives him a finished piece that is part of his signature style.
The purpose of his work seeks to develop an iconography –not only Chilean, but also from the world– that is seen as a contribution to the aesthetics of contemporary art, in order to be considered as an example of hyperrealism. That persistence in the subject matter of the objects is essential to get iconographic coherence in his works, an evolution and reinterpretation of the materials. He has a commitment with his aesthetic discourse, thus making investigation his main medium to create a unique and profound language.
Nicolás Radic’s work is geared towards a creative and visual search that arises from his own artistic needs; but still, it can’t be considered as work simply based on quenching his interests, but rather that his goal holds a higher purpose: elaborating a creative body of work that creates its own iconography. Therefore, we can infer that his perseverance in working with one material allows him to explore deeper into the characteristics that it possesses, by tackling the play of light, reflection and the possibilities that the materials provide him in different ways.