Dona Nelson's painting


Dona Nelson works both sides of the paintings, she uses bold color, stains, stitches and seeps through the weave of the canvas.  These images are from her paintings in the Whitney Biennial. Here's an excerpt from Carrie Moyer's review of Nelson's show in 2006 that provides great insight into her work.

Nelson has spent many years thinking about the possibilities posed by abstraction, leading her to make various bodies of work that sometimes appear related, sometimes not. Her current exhibition contains five gelatinous abstractions and “Walnut Way,” an arid, unprimed picture made by rubbing charcoal over the bas-relief of a Nativity scene. The relative abstraction or representation in each of Nelson’s pictures, far from indulging in the current taste for aesthetic smorgasbord, instead underscores her interest in painting processes and how they generate symbiotic images. The artist’s well-known antipathy toward displaying a recognizable or “signature style” can be traced back to the experimental attitudes that permeated the New York City art world in the late 1960s when she was a student in the Whitney Program. The practice of painting at that time had been suffocated by Late Modernism’s formalist and Marxist theorizing while simultaneously trivialized by Pop Art. Serious painters attempted to revitalize it by seeking direction and inspiration in the more opened-ended forms of performance, video and sculpture.


Dona Nelson, Okie Dokie, 2008 (front). Dyed cheesecloth and acrylic on canvas, 78 1/8 × 83 1/4 in. (198.4 × 211.5 cm) Collection of the artist; courtesy Thomas Erben Gallery, New York. © Dona Nelson. Photograph by Gary Donnelly


Dona Nelson, Whitney installation view

Dona Nelson, Whitney installation view

Dona Nelson, Whitney installation view

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