While Nikki Maloof has developed a unique pictorial language around the depiction of domestic animals, most recently the artist’s work has concentrated on still lifes of salmon steaks, gutted chard, dismembered crab legs, and sliced swordfish. Unlike the Dutch paintings that inspire Maloof’s "memento mori" paintings, there is not an abundance of food nor a choice in meats, rather through the depiction of decapitated and disemboweled fish the artist builds a pervasive feeling of discomfort and scarcity. This sense of impending doom is counteracted by the rich, undulating patterns that abound in Maloof’s scenes. In somber greens, mauves and purples, Nikki’s patterns are found on the tile, wallpaper and textiles that define her paintings of uncanny domesticity. The gaudy and garish patterns create optical movements that are designed to instill anxiety in the viewer, and whereas Nikki’s compositions are shallow, depth is created through these complex, rolling patterns. For Maloof, “pattern” is like a third character in her paintings, and while color and subject are important to the artist, the dominant patterns attribute to the overwhelming psychological feeling of the works.
Nikki Maloof (b. 1985, Peoria, Illinois; lives and works in South Hadley, Massachusetts) will present a solo exhibition at Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles in November 2020, and has recently exhibited a solo show, After Midnight at Jack Hanley Gallery, and the group exhibitions What Did I Know of Your Days: Danielle Orchard and Nikki Maloof at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark, 36 Paintings at Harper's Books in East Hampton, New York, Animal Kingdom at Alexander Berggruen in New York, NY Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts at The American Academy of Arts and Letters 30th, Anniversary Exhibition at Jack Hanley Gallery, Drawing Island at The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn, Horror Vacui, or The Annihilation of Space at Misako and Rosen, Tokyo, A Forest on the Edge of Time at The Pit, Los Angeles, The Great Figure Two at The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn, Imagine at Brand New Gallery, Milan, Let's Get Figurative at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, Tiger Tiger at Salon 94, New York, Undertonk and Friends at Undertonk, New York, Please Excuse Our Appearance at 247365, New York, and Immediate Female at Judith Charles Gallery, New York. The artist has received several awards, most recently the Helen W. Winternitz Award in Painting and Printmaking and the Gloucester Landscape Prize. Maloof received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Indiana University in 2008 and Master’s of Fine Art in Painting from Yale University in 2011.