NICHOLAS MOORE “No more heroes?”
Opening Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 7.00 pm
Just a few words as an Introduction
The title of Nicholas Moore’s current exhibition makes a statement, which at first seems reasonable: No More Heroes? There is, however, that question mark at the end that forces us to raise some doubts. What is he implying? Does he mean heroes don’t exist? Just for him or for the world in general? Even before seeing his new work, are we expected to answer this question, and if, having made our decision, should we decide that they no longer exist? And if so, when did they become extinct? Finally, whether they exist or not in his world, should that matter to us, didn’t we just come to see the work of Nicholas Moore?
Each time I stand in front of a new exhibition of Nick’s I have the same feeling: I really like his art. I have known and followed his work for more than 20 years, in fact since I first met him as a very young artist in Xania. We were introduced by a common friend, the painter John Craxton. Back then I was working in the Archaeological Service and part of my job was to supervise the restoration of the medieval town of Xania. I would often meet them wondering around the old town, not surprising as they lived in that area. After exchanging pleasantries we would always find ourselves striking up an interesting conversation. Sometime it was in front of a ruin, layers of Venetian and Turkish architecture, one succeeding the other revealing the strata of the town’s history and exploits. Another time in front of a Latin inscription dating from the Venetian occupation or, searching through the photos of the latest movies showing in town, their posters gathered together in front of the Municipal Market. We soon became friends and in a short time we started meeting outside the town as well. We would tour the villages to discover the countless small frescoed byzantine churches of the Cretan countryside. I was not sure if Nick was really interested in our long discussions in front of the wall paintings. It occurred to me that he was enjoying more the beauty of the Cretan landscape, the villages lost in time and the warmth of the Cretan hospitality. However he seemed to enjoy our discoveries, finally found after accidentally bumping into that small church that we knew was there, somewhere, but had seemed so impossible to find.
Nick no longer lives on Crete, but on Syros, however our friendship carries on and as it develops, it becomes more mature. At the same time I am glad to see that whilst Nick has matured as an artist his work has lost none of its initial freshness, exactly like himself, I do not know how he manages to hold onto his youth through all the years that I have know him, how he manages to mature without growing old! I like to see how his work has progressed as well as the depth of meaning hidden behind it. As his subject matter has matured so has his use and combination of colour, this orgy of hues and chromatic oppositions. It was obvious from the time that I first met him, that this would be the base that grounded him as an artist and on which he would develop his personal vision.
In his works, I discover memories of our past, the gold leaf of icons, an echo of our distant discussions on Byzantine painting. The Orphic series reminds me of the photographs that he brought back from his first trip to Istanbul (Constantinople). In particular a curious collaged Ottoman miniature he had seen in the Topkapi Museum. It had been glued down with apparently arbitrary contemporary engravings, the correlation between these images now lost to us. As he has told me this image has haunted him for over 25 years.
I like the way that the work of Nick Moore leads you down a journey of multiple readings. It encourages you to discover and extract the hidden thread of his narration. It offers you the opportunity to lift one by one the levels of its meanings through myths that move between East and West, between the past and now. That Orpheus and Eurydice of Greek mythology converse with the icons of pop culture, and the “hero with a thousand faces” of Joseph Campbell meets Nick’s Moore hapless hero.
However I will draw the line here and leave you to enjoy this exhibition.
14 February 2011
Professor in the History of Byzantine Art
University of Thessaly