Black River Running
27th April – 26th May 2018
Anna Schwartz Gallery
For nearly two decades Jan Nelson has meticulously created paintings that concentrate deeply on the role of the visual in the construction and experience of an adolescent self. In contemporary times, this concern is more relevant as it has ever been. For her new series Black River Running, Nelson splices and cuts from various sources to create a simulation of the real, an exquisite corpse upon which our worldly anxieties are projected: nuclear blasts, the failure of capitalism, cyber attacks, metadata and the encroachment of the online into everyday existence.
In the age of the curated self exemplified by; selfies, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat, the critical developmental phase of adolescent self actualisation is now mediated by smartphone screens and subsumed into the online. Screens play a vital role in the crafting of Nelson’s distinctive aesthetic. The monitor’s high-definition projection of her hybridised portraits, sets a perfectionist bar, which she then sets out to meet through the slowly evolving task of painting. This labour of human hand, Nelson perceives as a performative act, exposing the gap between the constant striving towards digitised perfection and the flawed reality of our idiosyncratic humanity.
For Jan Nelson, “To paint is to place value on the visual and to believe that the handmade holds relevance as intrinsically human. To paint is to claim a position that the intuitive and the discursive together construct meaning. In painting I transform my portrait images as I pass them through consecutive processes until the original is lost to a pulsating sublime.”Photography: Mark Ashkanasy