Nick Aston - Biography
Nick Aston is a visual artist whose sought-after work provides pictorial windows into visually rich botanic realms where plants are unapologetic protagonists.
Responding to an historical artistic tradition of representing and celebrating plants purely as passive aesthetic and planted gardens as a marvel of human control over nature, Nick’s work explores how plants can be understood in terms of power, agency, ambiguity and the future. Having completed a MA Fine Art Painting at the University of Arts London (distinction), Nick lives in Hampshire in the UK, where he uses acrylic, oil and spray paint to represent how plants are often arranged artificially, whether in botanic gardens, planted landscapes or as pressed specimens fixed on herbarium sheets.
Adopting a stylized approach that heightens the unnaturalness of how plant life can be organized through human interventions into the plant kingdom, Nick’s work mobilises concepts such as heterotopia, a space characterised by incompatible juxtapositions that can produce ambiguity and disturbance.
Botanic heterotopias such as botanic and planted gardens are recurring contexts in Nick’s work, wherein humans and plants co-exist, interact and collaborate with each other. Many of his paintings explore the ambiguous effects this can produce, such as the visual confusion from observing plants that would not grow together in nature.
Aspects of Nick’s studio practice engages with plants understood as ‘weeds’ and ‘aliens’, as plants worthy of pictorial representation in their own right but whose occupation in the tradition of botanically themed artwork has often been marginal or omitted altogether.
This can be seen in work where weeds are centre stage, often painted larger than life and rendered in highly saturated colour palettes to give them a far nobler status and prominent position. Rooted in and inspired by this diversity in the plant kingdom, Nick’s work creates botanic realms that are visibly rich, lush and luminous, enabling the viewer to immerse themselves in plant dominated worlds or ‘botaniscapes’.
Overall, Nick’s work collaborates with the viewer, encouraging them to see beyond the literal figurative references to plants and gardens they may already be familiar with.