Nina Mae Fowler (British)
Known for her sumptuously detailed large-scale drawings and installations, Nina Mae Fowler’s work interrogates themes of celebrity, beauty, power and sexuality. Preoccupied with Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’, Fowler treats the period as a crucible of our own, revelling in its sheer visual richness at the same time as it critiques our culture’s obsession with stardom, as well as the ubiquitous presence of the photographic lens in the reception of imagery.
In 2019, Fowler was awarded a major commission for The National Portrait Gallery. Entitled ‘Luminary Drawings’, the series comprises nine portraits of leading British Film Directors which now form part of the museums permanent collection, including Sam Mendes, Ken Loach, Nick Park and Sally Potter.
Since her nomination for the BP Portrait Prize in 2008, Fowler’s work has won widespread acclaim. It is featured in numerous collections of international significance and in 2015 a monograph of her work entitled Measuring Elvis was published by Cob Gallery, London. The book features
a commentary from an array of cultural luminaries including the curator Sandy Nairne and the playwright Polly Stenham. Her most recent publication Ruined Finery (Cob Gallery 2020) catalogues Fowler’s drawing and sculpture practice from 2015-2020 alongside contributions from writers including Alissa Bennett and Dame Marina Warner.
Nina Mae Fowler (b.1981) has been shortlisted for numerous prestigious prizes and awards, including the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2015 & 2010), Aesthetica Art Prize (2014), Drawing Now Award (2014), Young Masters Prize (2012) and the BP Portrait Award (2008). Her works have been exhibited internationally, including frequent solo exhibitions in London, Paris and Leipzig, and are held in public collections including New, Bailliol and Magdalene Colleges (Oxford, UK), The National Portrait Gallery (London, UK), the ‘Try-me’ collection, a public foundation in Richmond (Virginia, USA) and Fondation d’entreprise Francès (France). In 2018, David Lynch’s establishment Silencio in Paris held a retrospective of Fowler’s work. She is included in private collections throughout Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia. International film, art, music and fashion luminaries such as Sir Ridley Scott, Jude Law, Caroline Issa, Daniel Templon, Laurant Dumas, Roland Mouret and John Maybury are amongst her collectors.
I Wake Up Screaming
Conceived in the round and finished in painted aluminium, the front surfaces of the sculptures
are executed with meticulous precision. As the viewer moves around the sculpture, the three- dimensional representation dissolves into a raw, un-rendered clay surface. Here the materiality of the work serves to illuminate the drama of surface and depth incorporated in its subject. When looking from the front, we are presented with the essence of Hollywood idealism, but as we intervene in the space between the images, the un-moulded clay comes to represent the darker underbelly of fame and fortune — the scandal, gossip and speculation that dogged Landis’s career. These works are also testament to Fowler’s early artistic influences like Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and Rodin’s Eternal Idol: Fowler has imbued in her Bozzetti a similarly fragmented beauty, emerging from the ruggedness of material form.
The sculptures are deliberately modest in scale. As the artist explains: “The scale of the work is reminiscent of ornamental, deco figurines — a souvenir to mount on the fireplace or add to your collection” – imitating the merchandise associated with the idolisation of an icon.
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