The objects and installations of Richard Nikl often meet with incomprehension and rejection by the public, used to casting only a cursory glance at art and expecting at least an attempt at approachability. The truth is that the artist does nothing to facilitate matters even during a personal meeting. He regards the semantic level of a work of art to be of secondary importance. The basis is the material, the interrogation of stereotyped hierarchies and intuitive creation and construction, to which one should add a pure joy in transformation, discovery, feeling and following. But first things first.
The inaccessibility of Nikl’s works is due partly to the aesthetic and materials used and also because they are inspired by commonplace events. This everyday life is above all the digital generation for whom a constant presence on the internet, the browsing of images and status on social networks such as Facebook is essential. That which genuinely drives us to be permanently available online is difficult to verbalise, just as Nikl’s work arose intuitively, faster than its individual parts can be encapsulated in words. He himself says that he tries to work swiftly, as though in advance of himself, in order to avoid rationalising his activities. This is understandable, because excessive theorising during the process of creation can lead to simple illustration and or avdocumentary description of reality.
In June 2015 Richard Nikl graduated from the Academy in Vienna, where he had suited under the guidance of Professor Heim Zobernig. His professor works mostly with minimal means that allow him to exhibit space itself as a medium and thus operate on the border of art/non-art. The materials he uses also work with the same question. Serially produced frames, machine-tooled printed boards, adhesive films or the leftover roles of printing paper cylinders are not traditional materials that we are used to seeing in galleries. Their ordinariness is provocative and their construction almost banal. However, these works reflect an endeavour to create things cheaply and in no time at all their form can be transformed into something useful. One could even speak of a kind of reserve readymade. In the construction of the installation, on which Nikl collaborated with Jan Brož (e.g. the installation Kopyto, first shown in the AM180 Gallery in 2014), as well as an enthusiasm for DIY, we see temporary objects whose form is the outcome of the exhibition space, play, and the material available. The construction of the work entered in the presentation of the finalists of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award in 2013 was based on the same principle. The theme is now not only the fact of presentation in a gallery itself, but the financial and technical resources. The materials used thus lose and gain new values, and their hierarchy is interrogated and mocked.
The material that Richard Nikl uses is never a simple shape but more an impulse to an associative game in which references accumulate to production processes or corporate practices, as well as the personal records of the artist. This is so in the case of works that he supplemented or created using special clay used during the production of life-size auto models. Using this clay Nikl created inscriptions on glass or the logos of sponsoring firms on info tables (the exhibition of finalists of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2013), thus asking a question not only of classical sculpture as a medium, but of the technical scientific development and institutional background of art presentations.
Within his native Czech environment the name of Richard Nikl is associated with the concept of the post-internet. This term, however vague it may be, is useful when describing one direction characteristic of artists of the digital generation. However, the artist himself includes his work within the group of artists who use the internet rather than critique and subvert it. In his work we find an interest in the visual or linguistic for its own sake, with themes structured and presented for specific purposes and communications networks. Plans, drawings or twitter messages printed on board are to be found in his works and incorporated into simple 3D objects (the exhibition Void of Course In Copenhagen, the object for the exhibition Telepathy or Esperanto held at Futura, the work Spyderco, 2012). This creates a tension between the visual plane (potentiality) and its materialisation (physical reality), the resulting form of which often disappears when the exhibition ends. This is often present in the background of Nikl’s work. It is not a direct critique of neoliberal capitalism and its cycle of production and consumption, or an explicit ecological activism, but more an acceleration of the process of technological and social development (accelerationism) and the presentation of production structures and institutional systems.
7. Zlínský salon mladých (katalog výstavy), Zlín 2015
Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moskva 2014
Cena Jindřicha Chalupeckého 2013, Praha 2013
6. Zlínský salon mladých (katalog výstavy), Zlín 2012
Edith JEŘÁBKOVÁ, rozhovor s Richardem Niklem, Galerie Labyrint 68, Labyrint Revue, č. 35–36, Praha 2014
Radek WOHLMUTH, Chalupecký zpátky v NG, in: Art & Antiques, 2013, č. 11, s. 75–77
Jan. H. VITVAR, Soumrak v galerii, Respekt č. 42, Praha 2013
Artyčok.tv: CJCH 555 Richard Nikla: Dva pavilony / Náměstí Jana Palacha v Praze / 2. 9. 2013
Dostupné z: http://artycok.tv/lang/cs-cz/20333/cjch-555-dva-pavilonycjch-555-two-pavilions
Jan KRATOCHVIL, 555 + 5: Nikl, Artalk.cz / 17. 6. 2013
Dostupné z: http://www.artalk.cz/2013/06/17/555-5-nikl/
Česká televize: Richard Nikl zahajuje prezentaci finalistů Ceny Jindřicha Chalupeckého / 30. 5. 2013
Dostupné z: http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ct24/kultura/229562-richard-nikl-zahajuje-prezentaci-finalistu-chalupeckeho-ceny/
Artyčok.tv: Pavle Hayek – Otto Zitko – Richard Healy – Jiří Maha – Richard Nikla / Dům umění města Brna / 15. 5. 2012
Dostupné z: http://artycok.tv/lang/cs-cz/13629/pavel-hayek-otto-zitko
Artyčok.tv: Sebrané úvahy / Entrance Gallery v Praze / 21. 10. 2010
Dostupné z: http://artycok.tv/lang/cs-cz/6912/sebrane-uvahycollected-reflections
Artyčok.tv: Kypící nahota / Galerie Jelení v Praze / 20. 1. 2010
Dostupné z: http://artycok.tv/lang/cs-cz/3798/swelling-nudity