Ken Nicol often uses foul language in his work, writing in grids and pattern to overlay text in different orientations. His work also includes drawing, making, collecting and counting, and explains that “if you are offended by foul language, you’re probably not gong to like a lot of my work and you’re probably not going to like me…” (Toronto Guardian).
There is also a sense of the observation of an international and intellectual obsession of collecting within his work. No matter the medium that Nicol works in, it is always meticulously structured, creating a humble and mesmerising piece of work which makes you question whether he made it himself. His penmanship displays this the most, with repetitive words written in exactly the same way, thousands of times. Through the works, there is also a respect for the analogue and old-school practises through a juxtaposition of such practises and the smart, humorous and elegant practice that Nicol also uses.
“A practice that is deeply rooted in conceptualism. Nicol’s obsession with repetition results in work that demands our contemplation and attention forcing us to take renewed notice in the order and structure that surrounds us.” – Gallery Stratford
I was surprised when viewing Nicol’s work at the National Gallery, Ottawa, as it took someone else to point out the repetition of ‘fuck’ throughout the piece, that reminded me heavily of Josef Albers. I was in awe of the precision, care and detail that was evident throughout the pieces, and wanted to take this to continue into my own work.