Nigel Sense is an Australian artist based in Sydney who draws inspiration from the American abstract expressionists and pop artists of the 1960s to make work that is neo social expressionist.
Sense has exhibited his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia and in Sri Lanka. In 2009 Sense was exhibited as part of the inaugural Colombo Art Biennale, and invited again in 2012. His award winning first Sydney solo exhibition titled I Work With Tools was held at Sheffer Gallery in September 2012.
Nigel Sense’s latest work represents the unsung hero, the everyday worker doing a nine to five job. From society’s general perspective, the average worker is traditionally overlooked, uninteresting. Often called a ‘factory worker’, this label can be directed as an insult, but the artist subverts this definition and flips it on its head, producing pieces that focus on and unabashedly celebrate the worker.
“I feel connected to this subject and draw upon experiences from my upbringing. Growing up, my father was my hero and my role model. He worked hard and got paid little, but still did his job with pride. My recent work has is roots here but has grown to incorporate all the unsung heroes. This is a continuation of previous subject exploration. I tend to paint everyday iconography and the strength of a working class and its history.” (Nigel Sense, 2017)
Sense paints energetically in acrylic on canvas with bold, direct marks, describing his process as primal and instinctive. His overlaid imagery mimics his state of mind at the end of the working day. Instead of trying to clear his thoughts from the day’s experiences, he paints them—conversations, emails, phone calls, what his colleagues discuss over morning tea—everything goes down on the canvas.
As Sharne Wolff wrote in Art Guide (March 2017), “Employing various pop art techniques and the tactic of painting the things he knows, Sense considers his role as an artist and his work reflects an inclusive suburban upbringing and experience. If much 20th century pop art had a mocking or critical tone designed to shock the audience, Sense’s work operates differently. He engages the viewer in an intimate way with his everyday world. Communicating through fun and humour, his paintings seek understanding and empathy. Who didn’t like Muriel’s Wedding? Who doesn’t like beer? The painting Art is Lettuce even incorporates its own thumbs up.”
Nigel Sense is a graduate of the University of Wollongong. His work is frequently selected for major awards, most recently the Black Swan Art Prize (Finalist, 2017), Mosman Art Prize (Finalist, 2017) and the Kilgour Art Prize (Finalist, 2017).
Bachelor of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW
Diploma Graphic Design and Printing, Ultimo TAFE, Sydney
Associate Diploma Fine Art, West Wollongong Technical College, Wollongong, NSW
2017 Finalist, Black Swan Art Prize, Western Australia Art Gallery, Perth
2017 Finalist, Mosman Art Prize, Mosman Regional Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2017 Finalist, Kilgour Prize, Newcastle Regional Gallery, Newcastle, NSW
2017 Finalist, Fisher Ghost Art Prize, Campbelltown Art Centre, Sydney
2015 Finalist, Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore, NSW
2013 Finalist, Fisher Ghost Art Prize, Campbelltown Art Centre, Sydney
2011 Finalist, Australian Stencil Art Prize, Outpost Cockatoo Island, Sydney
SELECTED RECENT EXHIBITIONS
Workers & Wankers, Fox Galleries, Melbourne
Summer Show, Wagner Contemporary, Sydney, NSW
Black Swan Art Prize, Western Australia Art Gallery, Perth
Mosman Art Prize, Mosman Regional Gallery, Sydney, NSW
Kilgour Prize, Newcastle Regional Gallery, Newcastle, NSW
Fisher Ghost Art Prize, Campbelltown Art Centre, Sydney
Sense & Chavez, Fox Galleries, Melbourne
Untitled, Traffic Jam Gallery, Sydney
Art Is Lettuce (solo), Finders Street Gallery, Sydney
Hi how are you? (solo), Penny Contemporary, Hobart
Nigel Sense, Blokes and Sheilas, Harvison Gallery, Perth, WA