“Nicko has the eyes of a painter and the hands of a sculptor”

The Venice Biennale

“A Material Symphony for a Changing World”
Location: Palazzo Mora
Duration: April 20 – November 24
Collaboration: European Cultural Centre

This exhibition is part of the Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious art events in the world.

The theme “A Material Symphony for a Changing World” explores how artists, designers and architects use materials to make statements about the changing world we live in.

The exhibition takes place at the Palazzo Mora, a historic palace in Venice. This has been realized in collaboration with the European Cultural Centre.

The exhibition runs for the entire duration of the 59th Venice Biennale, from April 20 to November 24, 2023. It offers visitors the opportunity to discover inspiring works that use materials in innovative ways.

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Nico – Nicko – Van Dale (1952, BE), stands as a testament to the transformative power of artistic evolution. Born in 1952 in the historic city of Bruges, Belgium, he embarked on a compelling journey from a distinguished career as a restorer of paintings to a captivating visual artist.


UNESCO World Heritage Bruges is not only the birthplace of Nicko but also the birthplace of the Flemish Primitives. For decades, the artist lent his expertise to the meticulous restoration of paintings, undertaking commissions from dioceses, corporate and government collections, SMAK, Tate London, and discerning private collectors. This period marked the foundation of his profound understanding of materials, techniques, and the intricate construction of paintings—a knowledge that would later become the cornerstone of his own artistic expression. Nicko has immersed himself in painting techniques from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, such as imprimatura, tempera, glazing and oil paint. He applies these techniques in his creations.

Unlike the structured world of restoration, Nicko’s artistic process is an exploration of freedom and spontaneity. The artist discards the constraints of predefined plans, opting instead for a chaotic beginning where the painting takes shape, unfolds, and grows organically. No sketches guide him; only a written description of shape, texture, and color serves as a loose framework for his improvisational journey.

In Nicko’s world, themes are fluid, possibilities are endless, and each stroke of the brush is an adventure. The artist embraces the transformative nature of his medium, allowing original colors to evolve, be painted over, or partially eliminated. This ongoing dialogue with the canvas sparks new interventions, actions, and associations, resulting in a composition that emerges from the complex layers of paint—a harmonious whole filled with structure, both organic and sedimentary.

Nicko’s works communicate a unique language—one of paint, mass, relief, shadow, and color. His works reveal a rich emotional tapestry. The interplay of shapes, shades, and nuances leads to compositions that find order and tension within the initial chaos, reflecting the artist’s inner world.

His story unfolds as a visual symphony, where each stroke and layer is a note in his artistic melody. The use of various painting techniques and materials contributes to the cohesion of his creations. Symbolic elements are interwoven to mirror Nicko’s emotional and artistic odyssey, inviting the audience to explore the depths of his creativity.

Another technique “Fragments” brings forgotten artists back to life, by fragmenting and exploiting damaged and irreparable works of art that he has collected during his career. When these fragments are connected, you see harmony from a distance. You discover a different experience up close; each fragment tells a story, a composition of diverse representations. This results in a kind of group exhibition in one work. With this, the artist connects his past as a restorer of paintings with his new project: bringing together old art in a new contemporary project.

His collaborations with Forwart Gallery and renowned galleries in the Netherlands, France, England, Italy and Hong Kong testify to his success and wide acceptance within the art world.

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