Nick Hersey is a British artist who has lived, worked and exhibited in England, Brazil, Thailand and China. His work could be described as eclectic, reflecting his own wide interdisciplinary approach as a painter, draftsman, sculptor and printer all at once. Much of this work reflects a subtle ribbing of the “commercialisation” of the global art market, and life in general. Mocking the troop of new art buyers looking to buy the next Chinese Andy Warhol, Nick uses his understanding of advertising and communication to expose weak iconic styles with quip and the pun. Nothing is sacred, but not because of some anarchic challenge to establishment, but more as the provocation of a court jester, for whom revealing of truth to the unsuspecting is the key.
Nick likes to play with, and to customise ideas and concepts – juxta-position, comparison and reinterpretation are commonly employed to dissect, analyse and regurgitate any given theme. Often the focus lies not in the icons, concepts or imagery being explored and presented, but in the resulting sensation that the collision of these things creates. The hybrid contains more than the sum of its parts. This is not to say that messages are hidden, convoluted or obscure.
Since late 2009 Nick has been working on a series of artworks that focused on the face of Mao on the renmimbi. Building on earlier themes, Nick pokes a snook at the Chinese art scene, the relentless re-working of the same iconic imagery and its commercial motives. Using the highest quality paper and the best lithographic techniques available in Shanghai he creates multi-layered pastiches incorporating other commonplace imagery.
What do we take away from this work? Is it this money or is it the cultural heritage of Mao that is the unstoppable force behind the new China? Or is art and money the same where ever we go? There is a resonance to the work in any country, in any context – the ubiquity of common currency and its paper and electronic manifestations has a meaning for us all.