Nico Gozal paints on silk instead of canvas, and instead of paint he uses fabric dyes. To learn this complicated process, Nico worked for eight years as an artist’s assistant for Jane Murray Lewis - an accomplished silk artist in Tampa, Florida.
"I owe much to her because she introduced me to the art of silk painting and taught me many of the practical aspects of marketing and selling my work," Nico says. "After learning so much about this medium I fell in love with it because of its unique characteristics and techniques. There are specific skills associated with silk painting which I do not find in any other medium. Finally, the vibrancy of colors in the final product is something I have never been able to achieve with other methods. The luster of the silk fibers gives a unique sheen to the paintings."
Besides the silk and the fabric dyes, Nico uses special tools and materials such as Gutta. "Gutta is a rubber based or a water based substance which I use to outline my designs," Nico says. "In my work I typically use gold colored Gutta but it comes in a variety of colors. The Gutta applicator is a plastic tube with a very fine metal tip similar to using the canting and wax in hand painted Batik. The Gutta prevents the dye from spreading outside of the outlined area on the silk.
"A technique I frequently use in my painting is Salting," Nico says. "When salt is applied to portions of the silk when the dye is still wet the moisture from the dyes is absorbed in unique ways creating a marbling effect. Two paintings in my collection at Art Mecca called “Tasty Fish” are excellent examples of the salting method and display the unique result which can be achieved.
Nico says Jane also introduced him to three-dimensional painting. After the painted silk is mounted onto acid free paper, the individual designs are cut out and assembled in the bas relief format to create a 3-D scene. Various samples of these paintings are available at Art Mecca, and you really need to see them in person to get the full movement and depth that this medium brings to the art.
Nico says his greatest inspiration is nature. "First and foremost I get my inspiration from nature; I love the colors and the beauty of found everywhere around me," he says. "I take photographs of nature everywhere I travel and express it in my art. I also draw inspiration from my cultural heritage, Indonesia. The biodiversity of this tropical paradise instilled in me the beauty which can be found around us. Also, I am inspired by foreign languages and music. Like art, we can appreciate music from all over the world; and like art, words express unique concepts rooted in their particular culture. Therefore, I consolidate my various interests into my work. For instance, my piece “Alam Maya” (currently displayed at Art Mecca) was inspired by multicultural elements like the butterflies which are abundant in various portions of Indonesia, the famous British red Poppies, and the batik cloud design “Mega Mendung,”
"At the beginning of the year, I was working on a project inspired by a recent return trip I took to the island of Bali," Nico says. "This led to a twenty piece collection entitled, “Island of The Gods.” The compilation consists of my interpretation of the various wood and stone carvings of Hindu Gods found in the ancient architecture and temples in Bali. One painting is my interpretation of a photograph taken at the breathtaking Tanah Lot Temple, during our visit to Bali. It can be seen at an upcoming juried art show “a Sense of Place,” at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Augusta, Georgia."
The two- and three-dimensional paintings hanging at Art Mecca are inspired by the colorful vegetations and sceneries in waterfront cities like Charleston. The themes are mostly nature based and reflect garden, pond, and ocean inspired settings. "Recently, due to the scorching summer heat we have experienced in the South, I have been very drawn to create more pieces with soothing, cooling water elements, Nico says. "In fact, I have been working on a nautical series which I will premier during my October “Meet the Artist” evening event at Art Mecca."