Drawing on source material including film stills, documentary footage, historical paparazzi and entertainment photography, Fowler’s investigation of the interplay between tragedy and beauty emerges from intricate archival research. Her drawings are weighted by tensions surrounding ridicule, self-sabotage, compulsion, victimisation, emotional and physical vulnerability, exploitation, excess and abuse, played out in complex ways and in different combinations through the prism of the camera lens and the cinema screen. As ever, Fowler’s work maintains a special ability to reverse the gaze from her subjects to her audience; the act of looking is shifted into a sometimes discomforting reflection on the frenzied voyeurism that is accountable for the cannibalistic consumption of the stars depicted. Ambiguity is bodied forth in subtle fluctuations between mesmerising material finesse and the dark undercurrents of her subject matter.
In 2019, Fowler was awarded a major commission for The National Portrait Gallery. Entitled ‘Luminary Drawings’, the series comprises nine portraits of leading British Film Directors which now form part of the museums permanent collection, including Sam Mendes, Ken Loach, Nick Park and Sally Potter.
Since her nomination for the BP Portrait Prize in 2008, Fowler’s work has won widespread acclaim. It is featured in numerous collections of international significance and in 2015 a monograph of her work entitled Measuring Elvis was published by Cob Gallery, London. The book features a commentary from an array of cultural luminaries including the curator Sandy Nairne and the playwright Polly Stenham. Her most recent publication Ruined Finery (Cob Gallery 2020) catalogues Fowler's drawing and sculpture practice from 2015-2020 alongside contributions from writers Alissa Bennet, Olivia Cole and Dame Marina Warner.
Nina Mae Fowler (b.1981) has been shortlisted for numerous prestigious prizes and awards, including the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2015 & 2010), Aesthetica Art Prize (2014), Drawing Now Award (2014), Young Masters Prize (2012) and the BP Portrait Award (2008). Past commissions have included portraits of evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins and biographer Dame Hermione Lee. Her works have been exhibited internationally, including frequent solo exhibitions in London, Paris and Leipzig, and are held in public collections including New, Bailliol and Magdalene Colleges (Oxford, UK), The National Portrait Gallery (London, UK) and the ‘Try-me’ collection, a public foundation in Richmond (Virginia, USA). In 2018, David Lynch’s establishment Silencio in Paris held a retrospective of Fowler’s work. She is included in private and public collections throughout Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia.
Nina Mae Fowler graduated in Fine Art Sculpture from Brighton University in 2003. Selected solo exhibitions include Nina Mae Fowler, Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve, Paris, France (forthcoming 2023); Luminary Drawings, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK (2019); If You Don’t Want My Peaches (You Better Stop Shaking The Tree), Cob Gallery, London, UK (2019); Who Wants To See A Dame Go Blind, Artnow Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2018); Death Takes A Holiday, Silencio, Paris, France (2018); While I’m Still Warm, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2017); The Lure of Collapse, Galerie Dukan, Leipzig, Germany (2014); That’s Right Mister…And How Is Your FairyTale Coming Along?, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2013) It’s Just My Funny Way of Dancing: Parts I-XIII, Lazarides, London, UK (2011); A Real Allegory: Parts I & II, Dukan Hourdequin, Paris, France (2011); Valentino’s Funeral, Dukan Hourdequin, Lyon, France (2009); Selected group exhibitions include De Anima, Nina Mae Fowler x Casper Sejersen, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2020); NEW WORK PART III: SUBJECT, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2018); White on White, Melissa Morgan Fine Art, Palm Springs, USA (2016); Starke Frauen, Neuer Kunstverein Aschaffenburg, Germany (2013); Artists of the Colony Room (1948- 2008), England & Co, London, UK (2014); Face Value, Contémporary by Angela Li, Hong Kong (2012).