Art critic, New York Times December 2002
All of Nicholas Down's paintings are a commingling of nature and the emotions, yet each is a fresh statement. These are modest-size paintings; something that is disarming when one first sees them in person. They seem much larger because of the vast embrace of their themes.
Almost every painting boasts a different combination of media. There are combinations of media on different supports: oil, acrylic, watercolor, gesso, or alkyd on canvas, wood or paper. Since nuance is all-important to Down he takes pains to get exactly the right calibration of paint and surface. We would suspect a scientific- minded person at work and Down is also a doctor. He practices family medicine, a calling that parallels the wide-ranging and diverse nature of what he paints. He says that he first considered being a psychiatrist, that impulse was evidently channelled into painting of an emotional yet disciplined nature. Uganda, where he was born and spent his early life remains his heart of darkness. At different times he chooses a different end of the spectrum for his colors and lately his work is blue, purple and crimson. But this dark palette is animated by contours and streaks of pure white light.
Scotland, in its rugged way is as exotic as Africa. Down devoted some time to observing the morning light there and getting it right. This is clearly an artist who charts his own direction according to inner need. Yet everything Down produces connects up with our common emotional experience no matter how distant the inspiration.
In his literature he quotes Rothko's observation that the painting is an unexpected revelation to the artist. Rothko created fields of light and Down uncannily brings in light with an engraver's precision. But the two artists share an ability to reveal a sense of transcendence.