For her entire career as an artist, Nikki Maloof has been afraid that she only has a finite number of paint- ings within her. Whenever she puts one on canvas, she’s worried that she’s tapped from the decreasing number of paintings still left — like eggs from an ovary, perhaps. “This could be the end,” she always tells herself.
From the perspective of a critic who has watched her work for many years, Maloof is not running out of paintings; rather, her talent is swelling, growing, conquering all other painters, like the way the alien proto- molecule conquers human life in the television series The Expanse, if you’ll forgive the reference. There’s a sense, looking at the paintings in “Nervous Appetite,” her current show at Nino Mier—the show closes on December 19—of being stuffed with visual language. Not stuffed in an unpleasant way, but rather stuffed to the exact moment of utter and complete satisfaction.
Maloof began the paintings in the show at the beginning of the pandemic. “It was such a bizarre time to be creative,” she says. “I felt so many moments of paralysis, and yet, at the same time, having something to focus on was really good for me.”