Head of HAUS: Join us for a candid conversation with Nicholas Keays, who we are hosting as our first ever artist-in-residence. Available on all popular players, these interviews complement our exclusive NFT auction series. DROP N°1 registration can be found at the end of this article.
The work of Nicholas Keays, an artist based in Melbourne, has been called “Psychedelic” and “Trippy”, but we feel this is not an accurate characterization. His work is fascinating from an Aesthetic point of view and we believe it is important to take a moment to accurately characterize his Corpus.
His Corpus is a methodical, focused and solemn expression of the solipsistic and deranged nature of contemporaneity. Something dark, from beyond, perhaps these “dark energies hiding in the shadows” the artist refers to, takes hold or emerges from beautifully crafted, solitary figures. It is fascinating to see how the artist captures this “uncanny” (a reference to Freud’s Das Unheimliche) darkness “boiling up” from within, which rises and strangles human forms or structures.
This is particularly evident in his collaboration with Dugong Jr, a Triptych that captures in stunning fashion the heaviness and materiality of Gold, Jade and Ceramic. In Gold (left), a lone figure is fighting a decidedly losing battle against a serpentine, emergent darkness and his silent cry for help is captured with brio, providing the viewer with a poignant depiction of the internal battles we are sometimes engaged in.
The piece below, published in FELT Zine 28, is much more than a striking depiction of how self-centered we have become, thanks to technology which has liberated or rather unleashed the dark energies of solipsisms by dragging feet first Conversation into a desert of insignificance. With her back turned, the metallic, flawless figure reminds us that the meaning of Conversation and Community is now lost to us. There are only people “turning their back” to one another, speaking in a void, and doing this while seeking attention, while drawing attention to each and every aspect of themselves (ego broadcasting). Nicholas Keays is supremely aware of this, and this is something that is expressed without any form of commentary.
An authentic Conversation is “Hegelian” in the most naive sense: I have to “turn around” (something the mysterious figure refuses to do or simply cannot do as she is bound – the chains – to her idiosyncrasy) and face the Other in order to lose myself within the Other, but by losing myself, my ego, I find myself through the Other, through his World. A true conversation begins by the annihilation, by the crucifixion of the self.
As can be seen below, the individual completely lost to the authentic meaning of Conversation “throws herself” (this is a reference to Heidegger’s Geworfenheit, or “throwness”) and her “things” towards the Other (“Am I not pretty?”) in the hope that a possible interlocutor will find her appealing and that an exchange will suddenly take place.
Solipsism, brilliantly captured in Muscle Memory (below) seems to be a recurrent theme in his Corpus. The individual depicted in Muscle Memory is not lonely or solitary, since loneliness and solitude, as existential choices, both imply the reassuring and warm presence of Community, an anchor to which we can return at the time of our choosing. This piece is a glorious expression of Dystopian Solipsism, the type of Solipsism that obliterates Conversation and Community. Dystopian Solipsism is the endgame of the Cartesian Revolution, which largely contributed to put the Ego at the Center of Nature and Knowledge. The excesses of German Idealism, Surrealism, and even the way Classicism surrendered to Baroque all pave the way to a piece such as Muscle Memory, an Ode to the Ego liberated from the imperative of Otherness.
How should we approach Nicholas Keays as investors and collectors? His excellent collaborations with Bring Me The Horizon, Dugong Jr. and PNAU did wonders for his profile in the Crypto Art scene, as did his interviews with Vogue Italy and FELT Zine.
There seems to be a growing level of awareness about his work as people discover and learn about his vast output outside of the Crypto Art Sector. There is no way to accurately quantify how much of an effect this growing awareness will have on the price of his pieces and on the total monetary value of his Corpus, but it is not difficult to conceive that they will appreciate as a result of this.
Querying data providers and analytics resources such as Nansen, Rarity Tools, NFT Signal and NFT Stats return no results, unfortunately. However this does not mean the artist doesn’t have a strong standing in the Crypto Art scene, quite the contrary. The amount of chatter about Nicholas Keays on Twitter and Instagram is a testament to that. Data providers have simply not collected enough sales information to provide usable granular data. Therefore, a data-driven, objective assessment of his pieces and Corpus is not possible at the moment, and investment decisions should be based solely on the strength of his ambitious vision, on the excellence of his execution and on his standing within and outside the Crypto Art Sector.
A bet on Nicholas Keays is a bet on his vision and Aesthetic relevance. Determining the future value of an NFT Corpus based on the Aesthetics of an artist is a perilous exercise. However, we believe that this artist’s vision and Aesthetic relevance in these times of existential despair, and the way his work eludes easy characterization, will do wonders for his profile within the Crypto Art scene. Our preferred strategy here is to buy and hold long term. We believe that a sober, patient approach will be rewarded as the Crypto Art sector matures beyond Moon Cats and Loot.
We’re thrilled to welcome Nicholas Keays as our first resident artist with this exclusive drop.