Tucker Nichols’s second solo exhibition with ZieherSmith will feature three corresponding elements in his production, comprised of works on paper, photographs, and a large wall drawing.

First, a suite of small drawings, framed by the artist in plain black surrounds, reference the edges of our materialistic, media saturated world. One sequence of text-based drawings with simple words and phrases like “Vacuums” and “Business is great” read like banners for a closeout appliance store. Another series of image-based works with depictions such as an idling airplane are delicate summations of the quotidian urbane. Still other pieces are formal abstractions that slowly gestate in the mind’s eye to become a set of teeth from under a pair of blue lips or a mountain with an unmistakable nose. As the artist says of his mark-making: "I like to collect bits and pieces – rocks, advertising copy, overheard snippets at the supermarket, stationary supplies. I bring them home and let them run around in my studio. By giving them a new context, I wonder what new meanings they attract. I didn’t used to think trying to make sense of the world was particularly worthwhile; now I can’t remember what else to do."

In photographs of interventions in the real world, Nichols takes his vision to quiet, out of the way nooks and crannies, making impositions on reality and, certainly, improvements to the tattered world we know. His simple gestures work their way onto the likes of cow troughs, rusted wagons and the peeling paint of walls from the post-industrial wasteland. These truly plein air paintings create landscapes in the landscape, and serve as small performance pieces on their own right. Often with minimal scratchiti of a tree branch or text, the artistry is a mercurial mark full of suggestion and humor. The artist explains: "I’m trying to capture the early part of a thought—before it’s fully formed, before it makes perfect sense. The early part of a thought is bold and simple and not yet worn down by practical concerns. I want to celebrate our willingness to complete the story, to make sense of things even when there’s so little to work with. I’d rather build an open circuit and ask you to close the gap yourself."

Finally, with room-scaled wall drawings, Nichols provides the viewer an opportunity to live in a space that has been altered by his hand. San Francisco Chronicle critic Kenneth Baker praises the artist’s keen "alertness to such ambient overtones and to how and where words and other markings appear…Nichols has made himself into a necessary visual poet of our tension-ridden moment." For Nichols, wall drawings have typically been the pinnacle of months of study of the events or environs related to the site they enhance. For this show, Nichols is breaking from past projects by creating a spontaneous wall drawing in the days before the exhibition opens.

Installation View: Tucker Nichols, ZieherSmith

Installation View: Tucker Nichols, ZieherSmith