Nikko Saturnus Mercialo (Saint Saturday) is a Vancouver-based artist and designer. His work strives to reconcile inner conflict and the tidal sweep of our emotions, with an external world that is both brutal and beautiful. At once critical and celebratory of culture, society, and the individual, he explores the struggle between a variety of human impulses that are as necessary as they are contradictory, and which constantly undermine our psychic and social coherence even as they empower us with vitality, spirit and life.
While seeking to distort and synthesize the boundaries between tradition and tomorrow, Nikko’s creative production aims to foster wild emotion and speculative contemplation in the same breath, asking us to discover ourselves in the rich landscape of the space between.
Nikko’s work is heavily influenced by his unusual perception of the world through a rare neurological condition called Synesthesia.
Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second pathway. The condition has many variations, but Nikko’s case is a intense manifestation called “chromesthesia”, which causes him to literally see sound. His world is technicolour and kaleidoscopic, probably similar to what most people might see if they where on LSD. He sees bolts and blasts of colour radiating from every sound no matter how subtle, even voices or falling rain. Everyday activities such as having a conversation, listening to music or simply walking down the street produce an entirely new genre of experience for syntesthetes, impossible to replicate to anyone else.
Syensthetes are rare, although numerous chart-topping artists and multi-disciplinary creatives like Kanye West and Pharell have the condition. A common thread that Nikko and others share is the experience of complex emotion with seeing colours. This intertwining of hyper-senses and emotive imagery coupled with a background in psychology drives his creative production, and he constructs both visual and sonic mood-boards for the process of developing new works.
The constant inflow of visual and emotive stimulation makes it very difficult for Nikko to relax. To counter this effect he has naturally gravitated towards minimalist environments, meditation, various spiritual and physical disciplines, the simple but profound elegance of traditional Japanese aesthetics(shibui) and the colour black, which brings him a sense of certainty and balance. Unlike most other artists with synesthesia, Nikko’s work exhibits an uncharacteristic sense of reservation and control. This is intentionally done to focus the psychedelic landscapes which are his every day world through a creative lens in order to call forth the emotional tension and complexity apparent in each piece.