Nicola López’s prints, drawings and installations lay bare the bones and arteries of industrial places and imagined cities. Integrating infrastructure and embellishment, they are both precise and fantastic, appealing to the imagination as well as the intellect. In her recent woodcut with Tandem Press, a large, white, framed rectangle stands at an angle to the picture plane—a billboard perhaps, or projection screen. Behind and beneath it a tattered industrial matrix of broken beams and crossbars suggests architectonic support, and also the trailing lines of swift cartoon movement. (The artist frequently depicts the urban fabric cracking and tipping, not in a disastrous way, but simply to reveal its surging energy.) The shattered and disconnected girders appear in pointed contrast to the smooth, bright swath of the empty sign. Supported only by illusion, the billboard hovers insistently, craning its neck to announce… nothing.
Material and subject matter are interwoven here: this picture of wood and paper is made of wood and paper. The slight undulations along the left and right edges of the sign announce its substance; the surface of the sign is not in fact blank, but printed in white ink: this not a blank slate awaiting a message—it is the message. Without words the sign’s blazing void seems to shout, “look at me,” even as its title suggests the sign is looking back at us. It both glares and beckons. Like Dr. Eckleburg’s eyeglass billboard in The Great Gatsby, Big Eye is material metaphor—an eerily animate artifact, man-made and alive.