Spotlight

Spotlight artist duo Rob and Nick Carter

Championed by Dylan Jones
The Wick - Spectrum Circle 2023
Above  Spectrum Circle 2023
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The Wick - Spotlight artist duo Rob and Nick Carter
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Interview
Rob and Nick carter
14 February 2024
Interview
Rob and Nick carter
14 February 2024
On Valentine’s Day, it feels fitting to spotlight two artists who are partners in life and work – particularly when the fruits of their creativity are as sweet as those of Rob and Nick Carter. The husband-and-wife artistic duo have been collaborating for more than two decades, smashing down the boundaries between analogue and digital art and harnessing the power of technology to produce dazzling paintings, installations, and sculptures.
Their champion for The Wick is the media veteran and author Dylan Jones. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Evening Standard, which commissioned the pair to create a digital artwork to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Frieze last year. Spelling out the word Frieze in multiple colours, it was created with the help of the pair’s trusty “light-painting” assistant, Peter – or a six-axis Kuka Robot, to be precise.

Ahead of their March exhibition Layers of Gesture at their gallery RNat5A in Lancaster Gate, Jones shares what makes the pair stand out, while the Carters reveal the secrets behind their successful partnership.

Says Jones: “‘The zeitgeist’ is a much maligned and often abused term, and yet Rob and Nicky Carter’s work captures it time and again. They sit at the intersection of art and technology, producing work that continues to reflect the changing nature of the culture in a way that is never less than entertaining. They are also masters of scale and colour, making the kind of art that is consumer friendly as well as intellectually stimulating. Their productivity is a wonder to behold, as they are continually developing new ways to communicate, using film, photography, and robotics. They are two of the most important artists currently working in London.”

The couple find creative fuel in a wide array of sources, from the Old Masters to James Turrell, while taking cues from elements such as light, colour and form. They say: “Everything plays a significant role, from visits to museums and galleries to walks in the park. We bounce ideas all the time. Travel also contributes to our inspiration. Influences aren’t tied to specific moments but are rather an integral part of everyday life.”

Asked the secret to living and working together for so long, they reply: “Have the same tastes in food, drink and art!”

It’s sound advice from a duo whose work has been exhibited at The Frick Collection in New York, the V&A in London and the Fondation Custodia in Paris.

The Carters see their exhibition at The Frick from 2013 to 2014 as perhaps their greatest achievement. “It is very rewarding to showcase contemporary works alongside those by Old Masters in museums,” they say of the show, which featured their 2012 work “Transforming Still Life Painting”. The pair brought to life Dutch artist Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s work, “Vase with Flowers in a Window” (c. 1618) in a three-hour looped film. The flowers slowly withered over time and insects devoured the plants’ foliage, while darkness descended over the mountains behind in this transfixing meditation on impermanence and the cycles of nature.

Their March show, Layers of Gesture, harks back to the processes they used at the beginning of their careers. “It’s a fixation on colour and gesture,” they say. The Carters created the abstract works by dragging different tones of oil paint across up to 15 sheets of glass, which they layered together to create one iridescent piece with seemingly endless depth. They scanned the many layers of glass and paints to create prints mounted on aluminium, which they hand-painted with yet more oil paint.

“It requires sustained observation from the viewer to differentiate between the colours that were scanned and those that were painted,” they say. We’re looking forward to getting lost in the works at RNat5A in March.

About the champion

The Wick - Spotlight artist duo Rob and Nick Carter

Dylan Jones is a journalist and author. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Evening Standard and has written several best-selling books, including Loaded, a history of Warhol and The Velvet Underground. Jones also held the reins as Editor-in-Chief at GQ magazine for over two decades.

Asked the secret to living and working together for so long, they reply: “Have the same tastes in food, drink and art!”

Place of Birth

London, UK

Education

Nicky went to Goldsmiths and Rob became a photographer right after senior school, working with Gemma Levine.

Upcoming exhibitions

Layers of Gesture, at RNat5A, 5A Bathurst Street, W2 2SD, from 13 March – 3 June 2024.

Spiritual guides, Mentors

Sir Peter Blake and fellow artists, in general.

Advice

Embark on a relentless pursuit of creation. Embrace the inevitability of mistakes and failures as crucial components of growth and success.


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