Waves and horses, insecurities and evolutions, the American artist portraying individual and universal feelings

“There is something special that unites waves and horses, surfing and horse riding. It’s the feeling of not being in full control. You are a small individual balancing on something much bigger and stronger than yourself…. In a few moments you feel humble, you sense a strong and deep connection with nature, and the human being is healed through this temporary condition. My relationship with horses was born a long time ago, I started riding them when I was just a child, surfing came later, but it immediately became a therapy: it manages to realign everything inside my head.”

Nick Turner’s art is elegantly kinetic, it is the refined wave motion, it is the whirling of paws and manes, it is the dance of a natural and human present, of a definite and indefinite moment, where solitude manages to sublimate itself into a common state, expressing deep existential, emotional and sensory meanings.

The multifaceted eclecticism of this U.S. artist but citizen of the world is manifested through seemingly distant mediums and shapes: lens and brushes, collages and aphorisms become a single body and a coherent flow before the sensitive hands, palpitating flair and precious DNA of a man destined from childhood for the supreme ideal of the ancient Muses, but also for another kind of art, the sporting art.

“I grew up around the world. My base was in Maine, but for a long time I lived in Europe growing up and currently I am based in Portugal. My family is extremely creative. My grandmother was a painter in Berlin, she left Germany during World War II. My mother is a great intellectual; she was working on her phd at Harvard when she met my father. During the long periods I spent in foreign countries, I was homeschooled by her. She introduced me to a more romantic view of what was around me, she allowed me to commune with nature, and she put the first camera in my hand. It was not easy to grow up this way, because I never had a real social circle around me. During childhood and adolescence, I only had art and sports. I competed in national competitions in France in judo and was simultaneously involved in powerlifting competitions. I also was competing in equestrian for years as well with my horse. In general, I always got along better in the outdoor world, immersed in nature and its dynamism…. The outdoor context has always calmed me down and that is why, even today, I often travel to remote places with my camera.”

Sports and the arts. Arts and sports. It is complex to bring these two parallel universes together, it is complex to explore and manifest this dichotomy made irreconcilable by past perceptions and taboos that no one has completely broken. Nick Turner places this theme within a more full-bodied and delicate notion, the notion of personal insecurity.

Because the physicality of this multi-talented artist, sculpted by years of athletic efforts, has often turned out to be a flaw rather than a virtue, fitting into the galaxy of uncertainties that inevitably come with every human being – a universal condition, which only enlightened sensibilities can transpose into words, compositions and portraits.

“I believe it is fundamental to be aware of your body. Exercise has been a foundation of my life, sport has taught me the value of hard work and discipline, pushed me to compete with myself, to master every detail of my work. Sports has no relevance for many of my artist friends, I have to be involved in some kind of activity, otherwise I am not good with myself…. On an artistic level, I only showed my body for a series of portraits dedicated to horses. At that time I wanted to focus on fashion portraiture, inspired by Greek statuary, and it was difficult to find people who were comfortable with these animals. But the communion of sport, body and art also has downsides. For example, I remember my first exhibitions in New York, where I received ironic comments about my size. Those moments caused me insecurities for a long time. I experienced many situations where I did not feel comfortable with myself or part of a group. After all the years spent abroad, in college I had the feeling that I was not fully American, plus I was an artist, but I didn’t drink or smoke. For a long time then I thought I couldn’t be a fashion photographer and artist at the same time, I forced myself to keep these two fields separate, and only recently have I begun to realize that, in fact, these two worlds can coexist…”

Despite insecurities and inner doubts, Nick Turner’s art has managed to achieve a maturity populated by visual analogies and incisive faces, filmic movements and natural cathedrals, combining art, sports and fashion into a magmatic and coherent moodboard that is constantly expanding.

The delicate sequence plan of his works draws inspiration from multifarious figures and disciplines, becoming a reflection of the timeless photographs of Bruce Weber and Peter Lindbergh, the geometries traced by the fathers of contemporary architecture, and the notions absorbed through socio-political and philosophical studies, as evidenced by the title of the publication ‘State of Nature,’ produced in collaboration with Yves Saint Laurent.

There is no interruption in the production of this 40-year-old artist; there is continuity. The continuity of taste and meaning, origin and evolution, nature and humankind. The continuity of reality narrated without artifice or escape route. The continuity of an art that in its multidimensionality manages to be consistent and effective, drawing every viewer into private and universal scenarios, where every detail becomes an interpretable message.

“I love taking pictures, but I want to be an artist at the same time and I want to continue to have my creative freedom. I have to stay true to my taste, to what I like. My work has no definite structure, it depends on my travels and the places I meet. I don’t spend too much time creating a set, I don’t focus too much on lighting, I simply try to find the image I like. When I travel, I bring with me sketchbooks and spend hours drawing horses. I do so many things that I don’t use or make public. After a long departure from fashion, lately this universe has come back to me organically, I haven’t had to look for it, and brands go along with my vision. Now I want to continue on this path and pursue my idea of beauty.”

Nick TURNER is represented by THEWAVES Agency
For any request emilie.dacosta@thewavesagency.com

Photo Credits:

ZARA: @Zaramen – Photography: Ben Beagent
SAINT LAURENT: @saintlaurent by Anthony Vaccarello