WA Now - Andrew Nicholls - Hyperkulturemia
We owe the Tour some of the most sublime aesthetic achievements of the 18th century, yet at the same time as it was informing this remarkable cultural legacy, it was for the most part undertaken by extremely privileged, spoilt youths who were effectively on an extended gap year, travelling for the first time free of their families and the oppressive atmosphere of aristocratic society, with few financial constraints. As such the Tourists behaved (for the most part) appallingly, drinking, gambling and seducing their way across central Europe, many fathering illegitimate children, dying of venereal disease, or locked in debtors’ prison.
Nicholls’ Hyperkulturemia works explore this disjuncture between the Enlightenment’s sombre idealisation of Classicism, and the repressed, yet unruly desires of the British aristocracy. The series’ title refers to the medically spurious condition of ‘Stendhal Syndrome’, allegedly experienced by Tourists overcome by the splendours of high Renaissance art. The exhibition works aim to evoke a similar sense of disruptive corporeality, while reflecting the semi-mythical position that Italy continues to hold in the Western psyche, as a place where stoicism and reason give way to sensuality, excessive emotion, and potentially-fatal desire.