“There is a wide, yawning black infinity. In every direction, the extension is endless; the sensation of depth is overwhelming. And the darkness is immortal. Where light exists, it is pure, blazing, fierce; but light exists almost nowhere, and the blackness itself is also pure and blazing and fierce.” – Carl Sagan
The mirrors and use of dark space imply infinity and boundlessness. When staring out into the cosmos, we are often reminded of our existential insignificance in the universe. There is fire, darkness, mirrors, facades, beams of light, and smoke in the work of Niko Edwards. In his art, he contemplates the universe, while exploring dimensional space, finding meaning through forms, and creating meaning with the elements. Based in Guangdong, this emerging young Chinese artist already has a diverse and impressive body of work, which includes large-scale paintings, installations, and short-form videos. As a child, Edwards read many books about the cosmos and he often felt that he was an alien himself. As he matured as an artist, he wanted to continue exploring his ideas about the universe and alien lifeforms.
In his exhibition “Beyond the Universe”, there is a central installation that appears to be an enclosed tunnel. It is a confluence of dark matter and dark energy. “The Quantum Tunnel has two main concepts: one is the quantum effect, and the other is time,” Niko Edwards explains, “When you are actually in the space, you can feel it pulling you inwards, though from the outside, it may just look like one long strip, inside it is a transparent and open space.” By design, from the outside it is three dimensional, but once inside, a viewer can observe multiple dimensions, as the mirrored walls imply infinity and the beams of lights represent crossing multiple thresholds. The mechanism of the structure reflects the inherent mechanisms of the universe.
Edwards started creating videos and short films at the age of 18. The format allowed him to try out new techniques and visual ideas. While filming and documenting his installations – they would often become the central characters in the narrative – his video work would evolve to be more cinematic and inspired by the world of science fiction. In “Burning Souls”, Niko Edwards visualizes human souls as solidified forms in a pool of liquid. Bursting into flames, the suffering and pain of the formations is revealed to the viewer. The experience is one of catharsis and relief, without any fear or hidden anxiety. As the flames die out, the inner pain resonates leaving behind only the scars and trauma of burning souls. In “Boundless”, a black hole hovering over an abstract representation of water becomes the central focus. As a man walks along the edges under this perfect celestial body, he ponders his place in the universe.
There is a clear underlying theme in the artist’s work, as he explores the ultimate relationship between man and the universe. Each work is a manifestation of an abstract concept, brought into a dreamlike reality. Edwards says his next creative steps are “to continue painting and to master that”. He believes that each new series or piece of work he creates is a new development in his entire body of work. “I’ve never felt any one piece could adequately represent the entirety of an artist’s vision,” he says. One would need to look at the entire system and all the parts together to be able to see the whole picture. He hopes that one day people would be able to look at his work and “see it as some kind of alien invasion”.
Contributor & Videographer: Leon Yan
Images Courtesy of Niko Edwards