The Crescent Chronicles is a project that currently includes painting, drawing, webcomics and printed work. It is the telling of a epic fantasy of my own creation through an evolving style of figurative, narrative, expressionist visual art.

That’s the simple explanation.

Less simple is this;

    I’ve worked for the majority of my career as abstract artist; always experimenting with materials, media, and ideas-but always essentially a painter. I call myself a formal expressionist*. In 1996 I witnessed a revelation toward abstraction and developed the belief that painting could be used to understand the mysteries of the universe. Previous to this, my work as an art student was figurative and expressionist. After 20 years working in a non-objective manner, I’ve found a path back toward figuration. It would seem I’ve reached the end of the path abstraction would take me(for now).

    I recently realized that I was making “20th century” paintings, but no longer living in the 20th century. (I was born the the 70’s I and still miss the coolness of the Cold War, but it’s over). A conclusion that 20 years of working in the contemporary art world led me to; painting needs to have something that makes it relevant; relevant to us and to our culture. I’m sorry, but most painting is not relevant, it’s just there to fill a wall. And contemporary art is contemporary only with itself.

    The relevancy of the Chronicle Paintings is that they “write” a story. The entire narrative is dependent upon what is produced by the practice of painting. From the color of a character’s hair and eyes, to the light of the sun and moons. And so in this manner my paintings have a purpose, the creation of a world and the telling of a story. The only real purpose painting has ever had. As the project progresses, and becomes a collaborative effort, extending into more media, the paintings will remain the determinators; the font from which the story flows.

    The paintings are singular comic book pages, and as such they must convey a piece of the story at large. This is usually a climactic part of the tale involving sex and/or violence. These paintings give the viewer options, they can be read narratively and figuratively or as a surface of colors and marks. The point is that the viewer has something to be intrigued by, and that the painting tells some part of a story; the depths of which is decided upon by each viewer. Read into it what you will or examine further with the supplemental printed work, webcomics and drawings. I am giving you something that deserves examination and demands the wall space that it covers.

    The story itself is the conglomeration of my daydreams as lifelong fan of adventure stories. That, mixed with the gaze of a painter who came of age at the end of a really complicated century. The erasure of hierarchy in our culture has given us a freedom undreamed of before, so why would I not make the paintings like this. We all have a story to tell and we all like stories.

    If you want to know where I draw inspiration, I’ll tell you. I won’t talk about influence, influence is not inspiration. Influence comes from society and from insidious sources we aren’t even aware of at times, inspiration comes from love. As it follows, , I’ve pulled inspiration from a multitude of sources. Comics, Greek myth, and fantasy novels are what produced my particular code of ethos as I grew up. I’m still drawn to Moorecock’s multiverse and Elric in particular. As a melancholic person myself, Elric’s morose self-loathing was always attractive to me. And then there’s Dune, El Topo, William Blake, Spaghetti Westerns, Chanbara films, Frank Miller (particularly Daredevil) and Neil Gaiman. When I paint, I think about Michelangelo, El Greco, and Stanley Kubrick. Trust me, it can be disheartening to compare oneself to such greats, foolish perhaps, but if a fool persists in his folly, he shall become wise.

    In order to tell this story I have to create a world, this is the painters dream, to create an entire reality where even the movements of planets are understood and controlled by by hand of the painter. Light  and space tell the story as much as the figures, but what is painting, if not figures in light and space? That’s all we are.


    In the end, it’s really just a bunch of paintings and drawings and I hope you will see something in them.

-Jason Nickel 2017


The logic used in proofs, can be based on the formal manipulation of symbols without regard to their meaning. Formalism in art history posits that everything

necessary to comprehending a work of art is contained within the work of art.
A formalist, with respect to some discipline, holds that there is no transcendent meaning to that discipline other than the literal content created by a practitioner.
Formalism can be applied to a set of notations and rules for manipulating them which yield results in agreement with experiment or other techniques of calculation.

Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.
An artistic style in which the artist seeks to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person.

Formal Expressionism:
I establish up a set of parameters founded upon the attributes and logic of a medium within which creative thought can take place. Then… Zap! Pow! Bang!…as the mood strikes me.
The conjuction of these two seemingly disparate isms can be seen as two crescent shapes beginning to meet, creating a space within which art can be made.


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