Brian Nissen's Codices


Brian Nissen, Pipixqui Codex (Mexico City: Nissen, 2010). Graphic Arts GAX 2012- in process

“The word Pipixqui comes from the Aztec language and signifies to be in heat, to be aroused. In seven chapters, this codex portrays some of our most intimate antics. It depicts the foibles of flirting, incitements to excitement and the infinite trajectories of desire. Invoking codes of courtship and the protocols of passion that collapse when the compass needle of ecstasy becomes disorientated and our sensation of balance comes undone.”—Brian Nissen


Brian Nissen, Códice Madero (Mexico City: Imprenta Madero, 1984). Graphic Arts GAX 2012- in process

The images of this codex involve the rituals of games and play. “A codex of games; puzzles, crosswords, jigsaws, dominoes, quizzes and conundrums. Play is one of the basic pillars of art, and one of the fundamental forces that propels the artist. It is when we put into play the elements with which we work—color, line forms, signs etc. that we begin to discover their secret relationships. They reveal their own special language and speak to us of a hidden order.”—Brian Nissen


Brian Nissen was born in London and studied first at the London School of Graphic Arts and then, at the École des beaux Arts in Paris. In 1963, Nissen traveled to Mexico where he lived and worked for the next seventeen years. His encounter with pre-Hispanic cultures had a defining impact on his thinking about the nature of art. The Graphic Arts collection is pleased to have acquired one copy of each of his artists’ books, two seen here.