Nicolas Dixon, the Leeds artist known for his biomorphic shapes and vivid colours, through which Nicolas expresses his innermost thoughts and feelings.
As much as possible, Nicolas allows his hand to be guided by the impulse of what psychologist Carl Jung referred to as the “collective unconscious” – a kind of ancestral memory in which the cumulative experiences of generations past are embedded deep in the psyche.
Last summer Nicolas painted a massive art piece on top of Octan Club in Ibiza, the impressive 50 meter artwork represents Nicolas Dixon’s work like nothing else. We interviewed Nicolas last month and documented the days prior to the grand opening of VIVA WARRIORS in June.
Image source: Nicolas Dixon in front of his latest commission in Leeds
The Fleming EMC: Your earliest experience as an artist came from your sketchpads you doodled up as a form of “stress relief” when you lived with your ex girlfriend in Germany.
A few years later you saw an installation by your friend & artist Mikey Brain at a bar in Leeds which prompted you to show him your sketchbook and led to your first paid work as an artist.
At what point did you feel that art is your gift in life and could make you a living, while doing something you’re passionate about?
Nicolas Dixon: The whole thing happened pretty quickly in the end. It was getting to that point that took time, as I didn’t start painting or realise that this was going to be my life from until the age of 38.
From the time of me showing my friend and fellow artist Mikey Brain my sketch book from the period of me living in Germany with my girlfriend 10 years previously, to collaborating on a painting the very next day (first time I’d ever painted on a canvas) and within the next 6 weeks we had put together 15 pieces. My friend Tom Thorpe from PBR Streetgang was amazed by this and asked us to exhibit them at the pre party to a Circoloco night he was running at the infamous Stinky’s peep house in Leeds. Was an amazing turnout mainly friends , who were as surprised as I was at what we had created in such a short space of time a pretty much the first time I had painted properly.
Over the night we sold 6 of the 15 paintings!! After the night had finished I remember sitting with Mikey knowing this was the beginning of a new chapter in my life & that this is what I’m on this earth to do & everything I had been through had led up to this point.
The Fleming EMC: Before you started your career as an abstract artist you were big into the house scene early 90’s. In 1995 you travelled to Thailand with a box of records and ended up staying for 3 years making the full-moon beach parties unsafe with your house tunes. For those who have been to Thailand and have experienced full moon parties don’t need convincing how mad and rough it can get.
What was your most insane/memorable experience during your time as a house DJ at the full-moon beach parties?
Could you name one track from around that time that was your all time favourite and brings back great memories?
Nicolas Dixon: There was always crazy shit going on speedboats capsizing due to overloading, police stitching people up and generally a lot of crazy people losing their marbles!! But I would say on a personal note this occasion has to be the craziest for me.
It was the time when I was been messed about with times & wages (was also resident at other nights at Santa Fe in Koh Samui run by the same people) and had come to a bit of a head. Had a massive argument with the main guy who is basically the head of the Mafia. I grabbed my records and as I swung my bag round to put over my shoulder I smashed into a glass door. Before you know it I had 6 Thais grabbing me trying to pull me round the corner to give me what for.
Thankfully I held them off with the help of my Thai mate. The crazy thing was having to go to meet the main guy a couple of days later at a shooting range in the middle of nowhere!! Believe me my mind was playing tricks on me as I was was driving up the big long driveway seeing people in the trees with guns!! To say my arse was twitching was an understatement. Could have gone one way or the other but somehow I ended up getting my job back and learnt a valuable lesson never get into arguments with the Thai mafia.
The Fleming EMC: You have been adopted by the electronic music scene as one of its favourite artists. You reworked the infamous Pacha cherry to celebrate their 40 years, painted murals in UK cult clubs and worked as the Artistic Director for Eats Everything his Edible Records imprint.
In June you created a 50 meter long artwork standing proudly now on the rooftop of the new Ibiza nightclub Octan, occupying the former Sankeys in Playa Den Bossa.
It’s obvious you’re well respected and they keep asking you around for new projects.
How did you end up getting so much industry specific work in the electronic music scene?
Nicolas Dixon: I am a product of the Acid house days as you can probably tell by my work! Being from Leeds has & was at the forefront of the underground house scene especially in early nineties when Back to Basics & Up yer Ronson were at the Music Factory in Leeds and felt like the centre of the world.
A lot of my good friends are from those days, some more recent but in one way or another from promoters to DJ/Producers in the Uk & Ibiza, where I lived for a while when I started painting. Most of those are involved in the club scene which I have been around all of my adult life. Because of this network, people in the scene have been aware of my work and progression since I started back in 2010.
Since then my artwork has supported Nightmares on Wax on a world tour and designed the official merchandise for his & LNADJ Charity World Record of playing the worlds highest DJ set at Mt.Kilimanjaro in aid of Share Tanzania. As you’ve already mentioned I was artistic director of Eats Everything’s Edible label for the first 10 releases. I’ve painted large scale murals in much loved and sadly missed clubs such as The Garage in Leeds and The Rainbow Venues in Birmingham where people could see my work on a regular basis.
The Fleming EMC: The artwork you created for Octan club in Ibiza is out of this world, we could not believe the size of it the first time we saw it. An impressive 50 meter long artwork made by the man himself, Nicolas Dixon. 🙂
That must feel incredible seeing your artwork on top of a world renowned nightclub in the centre of Ibiza, a dream for every artist out there!
“Octan club is a warren of different environments, low ceiling basements, cavernous main rooms, starlit terraces, secret cinemas and pop-up sound systems. Different rooms, vibes and music culminating in an enthralling club experience.”
Creating an artwork this size must be very different from the more “usual” artwork sizes, could you explain to us the process involved and the struggles you encountered?
Nicolas Dixon: Absolutely it was a very proud moment when I was over there and had just completed the roof terrace just in time for the opening of Octan. I was sat on my own in the bar opposite the club just taking it in and watching the people queuing up looking up at my work lit up in the nights sky & said to myself “take this in as it doesn’t get much better than this!“
The outside bit which like you said is 50 metres and is in 7 different sections is a vinyl the same as used on the massive billboards all over the island. I designed them scaled down but in a way which they would all link up continuously all the way around the top of the club.
The roof terrace is all hand painted with brushes & rollers and took 4 days to paint leading up to the opening. This had to be done on a night as it was a heatwave in Ibiza & was impossible to work in the day. Having to work through the night at least kept me out of trouble.
"I was sat on my own in the bar opposite the club just taking it in and watching the people queuing up looking up at my work lit up in the nights sky & said to myself “take this in as it doesn’t get much better than this!"
The Fleming EMC: The artwork developed by you has a very distinct style, biomorphic shapes and vivid colours, expressed by your innermost thoughts and feelings.
As stated on your website, you allow your hand to be guided by the impulse of what psychologist Carl Jung referred to as the “collective unconscious” – a kind of ancestral memory in which the cumulative experiences of generations past are embedded deep in the psyche.
How did you develop and fine-tune your style that became the Nicolas Dixon who he is today?
Could you mention a few artists that still influence you today and why?
Nicolas Dixon: As you mentioned earlier my first sketch book from my time in Germany had been more of a therapy than anything else. Looking back it’s crazy to see the intensity of which was a reflection of my life & relationship at that time. It is very small, detailed & black and white. When I picked it up 10 years later it was bigger, still intense but had more room to breath. I then started working with block colour and jigsaw type shapes.
This has always been my style since I started just things are evolving, getting bigger more details in the shapes I’ve been introducing other elements like symmetry into play and straight lines with block colour to break up the intensity of the abstract shapes. All in all my work is reflective of my life and I am a much happier person than I was, as I pretty lost without my art.
Nicolas Dixon painted the inside wall of the smoking area after he painted 5 different plates (totalling 50 meters) on the rooftop of the old Sankeys in Playa Den Bossa Ibiza.
The project was commissioned by Octan’s creative consultant Ryan O Gorman.
Below are a series of images of the days prior to the Octan Club Ibiza opening: