Kirk Nachman's Comic-inspired Exhibition 'Without Opus' Opens at Fort Gondo Compond for the Arts

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

New York-based artist Kirk Nachman is interested in comics. Not just any comics, but vintage, historical comics and cartoons, from a time when animation cells were drawn with extreme intricacy and exquisite detail. With Nachman’s work, the viewer—confronted with a single snapshot that contains around it a much bigger (if unseen) picture—is compelled to construct a story that envelopes the bold, frozen-in-time moment depicted. A solo exhibition of new drawings by Nachman, “Without Opus,” opens at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts with a free public reception Saturday, Dec. 7 from 7 to 10pm.

Without Opus, 2013 9" x 12"; layout pencil, brush and ink on paper Artwork courtesy of the artist

Without Opus, 2013
9″ x 12″; layout pencil, brush and ink on paper
Artwork courtesy of the artist

By capturing the feel of classic comic illustration and combining it with his own sensibilities and vision, Nachman’s art presents the viewer with a snapshot that invokes contemplation. The artworks presented in “Without Opus” draw from Golden Age comics, genre films and classic animation, rendered in a familiar style—sometimes flowing and loose and sometimes severe—with the deep, foreboding shadows and severe angles of noir. The works, according to the gallery, draw from detective novels, experimental science fiction and The Book of Genesis (King James version).

Without Opus, 2013 9" x 12"; layout pencil, brush and ink on paper Artwork courtesy of the artist

Without Opus, 2013
9″ x 12″; layout pencil, brush and ink on paper
Artwork courtesy of the artist

Nachman’s interest in comics extends to his blog, World Historical Comics, where his love of the art form is expressed through his writings and analysis. We also get a glimpse into Nachman’s desire to continue the art form that so influences his art.

He discusses how prior to 1984, kid’s cartoons often featured lots of classic cartoons. It was about to change. “In 1984 a host of new cartoons, developed from toy lines or concurrently with them, flooded the secondary weekday kiddie TV slate,” Nachman writes. “Syndication packages of Golden Age cartoons and early TV era animation were pushed out. Woe to all thereafter.”

Without Opus, 2013 9" x 12"; layout pencil, brush and ink on paper Artwork courtesy of the artist

Without Opus, 2013
9″ x 12″; layout pencil, brush and ink on paper
Artwork courtesy of the artist

Nachman’s “Without Opus” opens with a free reception on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 7 to 10pm and will remain on view through Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. . Gallery hours are Thursdays and Saturdays, 12-4pm and by appointment. Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, 3151 Cherokee Street, St. Louis. For more information visit the fort gondo website.

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