John Nixon

Australia, b.1949, d.2020

Self Portrait (Purple)

  • 1988
  • Woodcut
  • Purchased, 1990
  • 995 x 700mm
  • 90/23:11-40

Staff at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū were saddened to hear the news of John Nixon’s death recently. An Australian artist with strong connections to Aotearoa New Zealand, John held many dealer shows in this country over the past three decades. His work is well represented in Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s Chartwell Trust Collection, and here in Ōtautahi Christchurch we hold a stunning series of his self portraits, printed from sheets of plywood, that show his interest in abstraction and the suprematist work of Kazimir Malevich. John also incorporated sound into his practice through his free noise ensemble The Donkey’s Tail – a selection of musicians and non-musicians who would play an improvised set using traditional and non-traditional sound-making equipment. The Donkey’s Tail performed at Christchurch Art Gallery in 2008 – a performance which remains one of the highlights in the Gallery’s programme of sound art.

Vale John.

(August 2020)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • John Nixon has a considerable reputation in Australia as a leading conceptual artist. Much of his work is minimal and abstract and involves painting and assembling installations. In 1980 Nixon declared all of his work to come under the general title Self Portrait (Non Objective Composition), emphasising that he sees his works as an extension or representation of his ‘self’. His suite of prints produced for Aus Australien represents his earliest forays into printmaking. These could be considered as ‘found’ images, printed from plywood blocks with no intervention by the artist with traditional woodcutting tools. Nixon has allowed the untouched woodgrain to represent himself as a self portrait.