New Works: Joan Nelson
November 7–December 19, 2020


The Paris Review
Joan Nelson’s Landscapes



Artist Joan Nelson On Imagining A World In Which Humans Don’t Exist by Brienne Walsh for Forbes



Variable West
Editor’s Picks: Variable West Founder Amelia Rina picks the most exciting events and exhibitions coming up on the West Coast



Adams and Ollman is pleased to present a new body of work by Joan Nelson as the artist’s third exhibition with the gallery. For nearly four decades, Joan Nelson has been reverently and subversively painting landscapes. Since the start of her career in New York in the 1980s, Nelson’s singular focus has been on the awe and the artifice of the tradition within which she is working. The new works—painted in reverse on plexiglass— feature mountain ranges, waterfalls, rainbows, expansive skies, and epic vistas, building on Nelson’s interests in the experience and depiction of the landscape, as well as in the materiality of paint and the history of painting.

Nelson’s invented and appropriated images push back against a male-dominated history of the landscape painting genre and question a deeply-rooted, North American vantage point centered on narratives of Western expansion, conquest and resource extraction. Combining details of trees, mountains, composition, and other elements borrowed from iconic depictions of landscape with imagery from photos, travel books, old postcards, imagination and memory, Nelson problematizes the notion of the discovery of this land by painting it as fiction.

Nelson’s choice of materials also suggests to the viewer that her paintings be understood as emphatically feminist landscapes. She adds mascara and glitter, as well as items collected from her garden and home, such as burnt sugar, plant life, and beads, to the maximalist palette of her wax, oil, and ink. The works are not planned, and imagery arrives through accident, experimentation and play as Nelson spray paints, stipples, draws and etches into the surface of each, coaxing a mood, a bit of light, or an impossible view. As the works unfold, the imagery toggles between abstraction and naturalism. Many of Nelson’s new works depict a barren, isolated landscape. Images are hazy, subject to the artist’s deft description of the fleeting effects of light and air, and depict the shifting nature of our world. She offers worlds that exist before and after us, and asks us to consider the environmental threats posed by human behavior.

Joan Nelson (b. 1958, California) lives and works in upstate New York. Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Minneapolis Museum of Art; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Works



Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2020
spray enamel, acrylic ink, marker on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2020001


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2020
spray enamel, oil and acrylic ink on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2020002


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2020
spray enamel, acrylic ink, marker on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2020003


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2020
spray enamel and acrylic ink on acrylic sheet
20 x 20 inches
JN_PL_2020004


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2020
spray enamel, acrylic ink, marker and burnt sugar on acrylic sheet
20 x 20 inches
JN_PL_2020005


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2019 
spray enamel and acrylic ink on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2019009 


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2020
spray enamel, acrylic ink, marker on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2020010


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2020
spray enamel, acrylic ink, marker on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2020011


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2019-20
spray enamel and acrylic ink on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2019-20013


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2019
spray enamel and acrylic ink on acrylic sheet
24 x 24 inches
JN_PL_2019014


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2018
spray enamel and acrylic ink on acrylic sheet 
12 x 12 inches
JN_PL_2018017


Joan Nelson
Untitled, 2018
spray enamel, acrylic ink and mascara on acrylic sheet
12 x 12 inches
JN_PL_2018018

Installation