Nic Koller is an multidisciplinary artist whose works explore the outer-boundaries of collage. They create collage-inspired acrylic paintings, video collages, a surprising take on “analogue” video work that is shot and displayed on multiple iPhones, and even extends collage into the audiosphere by layering found sound into musical compositions.
These works iterate upon themselves, overlapping conceptually & thematically, and share a distinct, complementary visual language. Regardless of the medium, Nic depicts common people (& places as representations of people) while embracing spontaneous, collaborative moments as the foundation of their process. This ongoing exploration has expanded Nic’s understanding of their composited style. It’s not just about seeing multiple angles & different moments in time at once; it’s also about fractured human relationships.
At first glance, Nic’s 2017 pool series is an homage to David Hockney’s swimming pools of the 60’s & early 70’s. However, these paintings are not about light interacting with water or even the pools themselves. Instead, this series focuses on small group dynamics. Nic combines moments captured from their everyday life to recreate emotive, neo-figurative memories in these paintings. Each person depicted is absorbed in their separate story, — including the viewer, who is simultaneously ignored & posed for, a part of the pool party group & a voyeur. The collaging & containing of Nic’s subjects suggests isolation within these groups, and that these memories have distorted, combined & simplified over time in order to form something new.
In their latest painting series, Nic creates patterned images of everyday people — photographed at costume parties, while asleep on the train and even screenshot from appearances on the news. These manual, painted repetitions introduce a new type of collage in Nic’s work that suggests familiar digital patterns, such as a website’s repeating background image or the endless looping of a GIF. Like many of Nic’s works, these multi-panel paintings present their figurative subject matter through the lens of technology. Each rendering of an individual manifests distinctly; some captured in slightly different moments, some incomplete in their detail, while others are convincing likenesses. These variations speak to behavioral & genetic patterns seen in mankind, and the series itself imparts a simple, earnest call for the viewer to sit with these patterns as a step towards recognizing & appreciating the humanity of others.
In a series of ongoing experiments (2016 – 2018), Nic animates otherwise traditional portraits by combining painted surfaces & projected light. This process creates dynamic images that defy traditional mediums in search of the new. When viewed without the projection, the painted surface looks flat, resembling an expressionist portrait built from abstracted shapes & blocks of muted color. When powered on, the video projection moves subtly within the boundaries of the canvas, creating depth & sharpness while enhancing the painting’s saturation. The final image is greater than the sum of its parts as Nic’s video collage style blends effortlessly with the painted canvas.
Nic Koller’s handheld approach to video collage brings a new life & breath to an often static form. While a small handful of artists have worked in video collage, none have output work exactly like this. In Nic’s videos, the different parts expand & contract and then quickly pop back into place allowing the viewer to look at, explore & live in the image longer.
Prior to working in video, Nic made composite collages out of 35mm film photos. Their works captured the unique feeling of seeing a city with fresh eyes. They were excited to transpose their collage style into video, but they didn’t know where it would lead. Nic shot & assembled dozens of tests in 2014 & 2015, working to answer an important question… How do you capture movement as a collage? While conducting experiments that portrayed a skateboarder, a dancer & a friend snowshoeing, they arrived at a documentary style that was uniquely their own.
Nic created 2 video-collage shorts in 2016, both of which follow ordinary (but eccentric) real people on a tour of their “home.” Estevan <3’s Koreatown ran in Monkey Town 7 LA’s nightly video program, and At Home (with Marisol & Sam) premiered at the Video Art & Experimental Film Festival at Tribeca.
33 Years, Nic’s most recent video-collage work, is a short documentary created with filmmaker Julian Klepper. It follows the true story of Cornell “Nate” Alston who was convicted of murder at age 19 and spent the next 33 years in prison. This is Nate’s decade-long story of anger: how it manifested, where it led, and how he eventually found peace. Nate recounts his childhood in Harlem fraught with loss & pain, his angry adolescence & years in prison to the backdrop Nic’s collaged B-roll, which poetically portrays Young Nate’s reality as fractured by anger, confusion & hate. 33 Years is a blend of storytelling, filmmaking & video art. This experimental documentary was created in collaboration with Julian Klepper & the film’s narrator, Nate Alston.
Currently, Nic curates for STRAIGHT THROUGH THE WALL, a guerrilla Arts Collective that projects video art onto walls throughout NYC.