There are a number of themes at work in the collage art of Pavlina Nichole on display now under the name, Extraordinary Day in the gallery space at Sagebrush Café. Playfulness and fun are the most striking features of many of the pieces in the show.
Bright colors and witty juxtapositions create a sense of almost revelatory innocence – or at least, Pavlina Nichole seems to revel in an ironic innocence with these collage works. The irony comes in the fact that the work on display in this show often uses a consistent and recognizable set of visual codes and cues relating to ideas of gender, body image, sex and sexuality, and, yes, innocence itself.
The art in Extraordinary Day is sometimes about how the world sees us and sometimes about how we see ourselves. It is also about how the imagination stands at the center of each of these directionalities/points of view and how, if a person wants to instill a change in perspectives, the imagination is a necessary part of any self-creation, self-shaping or new world view.
Using images cut from vintage advertisements and fashion magazines from the 1950s (and some from as far back as the 1930s), Nichole’s collages draw a subtle comment on the various sources of our contemporary views of beauty and sexuality – without breaking from the metaphorical and playful codes that characterize the style of each piece.
In her own words, Pavlina Nichole thinks of her art as exploring “the drama of everyday life” in ways that utilize vintage images from a shared history as “a groundwork where I can create a NEW story or moment.”
To risk stretching just an iota, it is tempting to say that Extraordinary Day treats the landscape of 1950s commercial imagery as a pseudo-Garden-of-Eden, offering, maybe, a glimpse of where our ideas have come from and how far (or how little) they have traveled since being ejected from that well-known paradise where everyone had a new car in the driveway, a slim-waisted home-cooking wife and a work-ethic matched only by a great, blustery sense of humor.
That may be taking the metaphor at the heart of these collages past its intended reach, but the iconography here is undeniably blissful, frankly ironic and consistent with a quiet, artistic re-imagining of the ideas of sexual identity and self-image.
by Pavlina Nichole
Showing at Sagebrush Cafe
42104 50th Street West, Quartz Hill CA 93536