Niki McQueen is a visual artist and communications and graphic design specialist from Cape Town, with a background in Marine Biology. She has pioneered a technique in which richly-coloured, finely detailed, surreal and otherworldly artworks are created from digital composites which are painstakingly hand-printed and hand-drawn onto archival papers and then washed, painted colored and finished using a variety of materials, in an 8 to 12 step process she has developed and perfected over several years.
Enamored with the extraordinary, she draws inspiration from multiple sources including vintage medical, biological and scientific illustrations, and museum and library collections, as well as surrealism, street art and magical realism. Her art explores the places beyond reason and the familiarity of everyday existence. Themes include anatomy, biology, psychology, archetypal interplay, eroticism, decay and rebirth. Every work tells a story, be it personal or magical – the viewer is invited to explore meaning in their own interpretation.
Her body of work, comprising over 400 artworks, is broadly divided into two portfolios which cover everything from deep examinations of dreams, desires, memories, and traumas to more innocent dream-and wish fulfilment work.
The light and playful work (Life Beyond Reason), often featuring children and animals, speaks to the flashes of a childhood that was magical and surreal at times, and inner-child therapy. Through connecting with facets of the playful inner child, she seeks to express innocence and wonder. The more surreal and symbolic art (Niki McQueen Art) is a process of channelling psychological and emotional disturbances or realisations and happens on a subconscious level. While some of these works begin with a deliberate theme, topic or purpose, a lot of the work emerges and develops subconsciously and may take days, weeks or months to create, understand, contextualise and explain.
Niki sold her first artwork within a month of making her work public in 2020 and started exhibiting about 6 months after that. She has sold over 130 artworks in under 4 years, to both local and global buyers and collectors.
In 2021 and 2022, she placed in the top 40 finalists in the Vuleka Art Competition in Cape Town. She also placed in the Top 100 in the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition in September 2021, with her work on display at the Pretoria Art Museum. In November 2021, she won the Africa Regional Award in the international Copic Awards 2021.
She participated in her first exhibition in December 2020, followed by the Coming Home exhibition at the Imibala Gallery in May 2021. She is proud to have been represented by the Art@Africa galleries in 2021 and has works hanging in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Graaf Reinet, Somerset West and Hermanus. She also represented South Africa at the Art Connects Women Exhibit in Dubai in March 2023.
She published her first book of art and poetry in 2022 and was very proud to collaborate in 2022 with The Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer to create a collection of artworks for their 2023 tour. In 2023, Niki created the cover art for Amanda’s cover of Sinead O’ Connor’s The Last Day of Our Acquaintance.
You can find out more about Niki in this interview.
ARTIST’S STATEMENT 2024
I am captivated with the strange and extraordinary, and I create artworks which express my fascination with the sciences, the social sciences and encompass psychology, whimsy, humour and the macabre. I draw inspiration from classic surrealism, magical realism, street art, collections of vintage medical and scientific illustrations, as well as many contemporary artists whose work I resonate with. I create digital composites using hand-drawn and public domain images, which are expertly and painstakingly hand-printed and drawn onto archival papers and then worked into with inks, watercolours, and mixed media.
My art explores the places beyond reason and the familiarity of everyday existence. It is a manifestation of an urgent, unquenchable need for the expression of years of unspoken truths, unthought thoughts, unfelt feelings, unfulfilled longings, losses, triumphs, lessons and personal evolution. I deconstruct feelings, thoughts and societal norms and examine them through the lens of my personal paradigm.
My fascination with psychology (especially the work of Jung), societal paradigms, inner work, anatomy, biology, literature, art and poetry has led me to discover and express powerful and emotive personal symbolism. I make my art for myself, seeking to uncover thoughts, beliefs and feelings which deserve examination and resolution. I find these connect with viewers in both a subliminal and emotional manner which transcends the banality of the labels we give ourselves and others. Infusing or discovering meaning in my own work is a process which is sometimes deliberate, and at others takes time to unfold, which is personally both cathartic and enlightening. I strive for authenticity, trying to never contrive meaning or force interpretation on the viewer.
In my whimsical, more populist pieces (Life Beyond Reason works), I draw on my love of fairytales and magical realism to create worlds to inspire and delight.
BUY ARTWORK OR PRINTS
All the original work on this website is for sale unless otherwise indicated, and if you are interested in purchasing artwork, the simplest and quickest way to do so is drop us an email and we’ll arrange for a quote and send you close-up and in situ images of the work. All the info you need on purchasing work is HERE.
BECOME A PATRON…
Niki has a Patreon Page for supporters and collectors who wish to assist her financially to create art, in the face of challenging medical circumstances. Niki announces print drops, releases new work and shares insights, behind the scenes snippets and work in progress images and videos on this platform. Her page is free to join, and premium content starts at $1 per month.