Press Release: Nicholas Sistler at Firecat Projects


“Trouble” shapes unconventional perspective on vintage erotica. Artist Nicholas Sistler plumbs the depths of the Kinsey Institute and brings old photos to a new light.

Chicago – “Trouble,” an exhibition of meticulously created small-scale paintings and prints, opens Friday, April 27, at Firecat Projects, 2124 N. Damen Avenue and continues through May 19, 2012. In each moodily suggestive piece, artist Nicholas Sistler incorporates vintage photo images gathered from the collection of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. An accompanying installation is designed to enhance the seductive nature of the artwork, which exposes power relationships as expressed through sexual situations. The artist will be present for the opening reception, Friday, April 27, 7-10 p.m.

For “Trouble,” Sistler has brought together some of the more unusual demonstrations of fetish and sexual experimentation, and positioned each in a psychological environment inspired by film noir. “I’m fascinated by optical illusions and how visual information can be ambiguous, first appearing one way, then morphing into something entirely different,” says Sistler. “I spent hours and hours poring through the Kinsey photo archives at Indiana University and was inspired by the multiple readings many photos could afford. In each painting and print, I tell my own dark story beyond the borders of the photographs.”

Sistler treats his miniature images (most would fit on a postcard) like advertising, captivating his audience with brilliant colors and meticulous detail, leading them into compositions of room interiors. The artist’s manipulation of the viewer reflects the domination played out in the vintage photos he uses as source material. The intimate scale redefines one’s relationship to the image, posing questions of supremacy between the spectator and the art object.

About the Artist
Nicholas Sistler received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute in 1980. He practiced performance art from 1977 to 1985, receiving critical acclaim both locally and nationally. He has received several grants from the Illinois Arts Council, including an Artist’s Fellowship Award and four residencies from the Ragdale Foundation. His work has been published as book cover illustrations and greeting cards. His works have appeared in more than 100 exhibitions, including 24 solo shows. He is represented in Chicago at Printworks Gallery. His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois State Museum, Rockford Art Museum, Block Museum at Northwestern University, DePaul University Art Museum, Otterbein University, and Benedictine University, as well as numerous private collections coast to coast.