The first thing to hit you when entering Nick Theobald’s small studio space in Bushwick Brooklyn is the dense fragrance of honey. I met the 29 year old in this space as he prepared for his second solo exhibit, WITH HONEY FROM THE ROCK, on view at the Richard Taittinger gallery through December 12th.
Possessing water-clear eyes, pale skin, and the shaved head of a monk, he welcomed me with a glowing smile. It is the same glow that radiates from within his signature iridescent, yellow canvasses, dripped in thick layers of beeswax – his material of choice. Amid the clamor of garbage trucks and traffic noise, his studio emerges a sanctuary, backlit by early morning light, drifting with gold dust or pollen on the air. The spiritual nature of his work is at once apparent in the tranquility of his demeanor and in the harmony of this atmosphere.
Theobald’s background is an interesting one. Blue-eyed and California born, he in fact grew up throughout Japan from ages 5 to 19. It’s there that he attributes the cultural and aesthetic influences that have shaped his work, and that’s left him feeling a stranger in a strange land in American culture. He admits that while he possesses a passport, studied at Parsons and is currently based in New York, “It doesn’t feel like home”. A self-described child of the universe he explains that he “grew up in many different cultures” and recalls walking the streets of Tokyo with his mother, “the saffron robes of the monks, and the patina Buddhist temple walls” – colors visible in the palette of HONEY FROM THE ROCK.