Energizing Art One Palette Knife at a Time
Meeting 21-year-old Nicholas Kontaxis, an artist endowed with talent, energy and a passionate love of bold colors and shapes, is an inspiration. Kontaxis resides in Rancho Mirage, where he has been quietly painting acrylics that have turned heads from the De Re Gallery in Los Angeles to Gilman Contemporary in Sun Valley, Idaho. “He does more with a palate knife than any other artist could create with a handful of paint brushes,” points out one of his admirers.
Having overcome more obstacles than most of us could count, the artist works in a studio in what was once a two-car garage at his parents’ residence—a space that now vibrates with color and drama. Kontaxis, who has features of autism, was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was only 15 months old, and has endured some forty thousand seizures to date.
Kontaxis’s latest work, a four-panel piece for the new AC3 Restaurant & Bar at the Hotel Paseo in Palm Desert, blends the energy of Jackson Pollock with a dash of Damien Hirst’s tongue-in-cheek humor. The installation welcomes restaurant patrons with a burst of mesmerizing forms and colors measuring more than 31 feet long and provides a “stunning addition to the art of dining,” according to Palm Desert resident Phyllis Eisenberg. And the work plays out well in the heart of El Paseo, where art galleries proliferate.
Kontaxis’s mother, Krisann, recalls that an art dealer at Miami Art Basel, advised her to “keep Nicholas painting every day!” Those who have met him and watched him work sense the electric (and sometimes eccentric) communication taking place between the artist and his canvases as he uses his palette knife to define, shape, and color, transforming large white spaces into vibrating compositions. As Heath Gallery owner James Mancini Heath explains, “each layer of texture and paint [in Kontaxis’s works] is almost spiritual, luring art aficionados and novices alike.”
To find out more about Kontaxis, visit www.nicholaskontaxis.com. Heather James Art Gallery in Palm Desert will also feature the artist at a one-night event on March 17, 2018, from 4:30 to 9:30 pm, with a reception scheduled for 5:30 pm.