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Nykoli Koslow

An on-line drawing exhibition

April through June

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Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present PSG on PAPER, an exhibition about drawing. Each week, the gallery presents the work of one artist. 

All of the work can be purchased. Some is listed on the website's Store (above in menu). Call the gallery at 414 870-9930 or write for additional purchases or information. We will porch deliver anywhere in the MIlwaukee area free of charge. 

Artists include: Emily Belknap, Melissa Cooke, Steve Burnham, Skully Gustafson, Pat Hidson, Nykoli Koslow, Ashley Lusietto, David Niec, Rosemary Ollison, Amy O'Neill, Mark Ottens, Nirmal Raja, Rafael Francisco Salas, Della Wells, MC Winston, Christopher Wood. 


In an Instagram post accompanying this self-portrait, Nykoli wrote:

"Happy trans day of visibility. This is me being quarantined, getting over being sick, in my studio (self isolated and not sick with covid) and existing as myself. Too tired to really get dressed or bind or any of that stuff. Candid?

Spending trans day of visibility being visibly inside. :) There's a quote in the Bhagavad Gita that says "it's better to fail at your own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of someone else." Being out, as anything, is choosing to live your own life. Which is, very much so, existing as trans man who doesn't pass or a trans masculine person who fails at masculinities. I'd like to drop the desire to be a 'man' . I like being trans. I like being a trans man. Specifically, as itS own thing, as I define, and re define, for myself, day by day. Maybe a trans masculine non binary person? And while I haven't been closeted, I've been out for many years, I'm not very loud or have the energy to tell people for so many reasons. Which made me kind of invisible, or visibly someone I'm not -and just letting that slide. It's a weird and unique thing not ever being seen. But, It's a very human thing to want to be seen, not wanting to be erased."


Nykoli Koslow, (b. 1989 Chicago IL), lives in Milwaukee, WI, and works in painting and drawing. Nykoli fuses figuration with abstraction to explore notions of gender, sexuality and agency. Part autobiographical and part research based, his current series turns the visceral feelings of gender dysphoria into a queer cosmology. His work pulls from ancient history, mythology, religion, mysticism, and a kind of theoretical physics infused with sci-fi.

Nykoli graduated from University of Milwaukee-Peck School of the Arts in 2013 with an emphasis in painting and drawing, minoring in English. 

Serving as the current Pfister Artist in Residence, Nikoli was also a Mary L Nohl Fellowship finalist in 2019. Nykoli was selected to participate in the 2017 MARN-Mentee program working under Jason S. Yi. He curated Bodies: A Non-Figurative Exhibition at Var Gallery, September 2018. Nykoli was selected by Wallpapered City and sponsored by Trip Savvy New York to create a mural for the NoMADmke Wauwatosa Mural Corridor in 2019. Nykoli has had a studio space at Var Gallery since 2014. He currently works as the communications manager and gallery assistant for Hawthorn Contemporary, Var West Gallery and Var Gallery.


Debra Brehmer writes:
Nykoli's organic, calligraphic work suggests spills and wispy tendrils that twist and tangle. After giving life to the mark, the artist seems to set it loose into a world of freedom and coalition. Like other mark makers such as Julie Mehretu, Joan Mitchell or Brice Marden, these new drawings, as well as Nykoli's colorful oil paintings, present gestural forces that zip beyond associations of identity, place, or nameable object, using momentum as their compositional underpinning. Layered pencil marks revel in their fight for their own substance or bearing, the way seedlings break ground with both delicacy and force. 

Skully Gustafson writes:  
Love the line work! Very free flowing without hesitant looking marks. Love seeing his work in black and white. Lots of movement and space. Resembles nature and clusters. Interesting in these times how we are trying to de-cluster while the virus tries to cluster. I see that in the work a bit too. 

Nirmal Raja writes:
A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder

Will everything we see from now on, be colored by the pandemic? 
When I first saw Nykoli’s work about a year ago, the word “celebration” came to mind. His work reminded me of fireworks and tinsel, balloon popping and noise making.

Now, what I see are micro-organisms performing a different kind of “celebration”.  I can just imagine the glee in them, these previously insignificant beings…. rubbing their hands (if they had any) together. Laughing at human helplessness as they take over the world.  Finally! They would say… we could reclaim our universe once again. Can you just see them? Dancing away in utter abandon. Unstoppable and undefeatable.

Nykoli’s frenetic mark making reminds me of Julie Mehretu’s work. There is a monumentality about them that opens up a whole other universe of mystery to be explored and examined. Perhaps with this examination, we can negotiate for space under the microscope--speak gently, kindly and respectfully, make friends so we can dance together in abandon once again and in synchrony.

Steve Burnham writes:
Nykoli’s drawing is wonderfully energetic, a kind of contour map of a mind at a certain moment, with overlaps, rethinking, the intrusions of nature, and music.

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Nykoli Koslow, Drawing #4, 2020. Graphite on paper, 9 x 12 in. $400

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