FAIR presented by NADA
May 20—June 21

Week 1:  Todd Norsten

NOT ONE, 2020
gouache on Thai Mulberry paper
15 panels, each 37 x 22 inches
Overall: 111 x 110 inches

Todd Norsten’s grid of paintings on paper, NOT ONE, 2020, was made under constraints that mirror our current quarantine and restrictions on normal life.  Using only five lettersO, N, E, T,WNorsten offers different permutations as emphatic phrases that draw from a lineage of poetic and political text-based work. His quick, assured marks and gestures read as headlines or slogans--NO ONE, ONE TOO, NOW TWO--that convey urgency and importance of basic human needs, both in this time of pandemic and throughout history. 

Week 2:  Vaginal Davis

At the End of a Perfect Day, 2018
watercolor pencil, nail varnish, lip stain, eye shadow, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, witch hazel, coconut oil, cocoa butter, perfume, hairspray, Anacin Fast Pain Relief Tablets, Excedrin Migraine & Headache Tablets, Lydia E. Pinkham Women's Compound and Health Tonic1
1 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches

Vaginal Davis conjures her paintings with a concoction of “cosmetics, beauty products, domestic household goods, witchcraft potions, elixirs and compounds.” Layers of expressive marks cover various found substrates such as magazine pages, exhibition invitations, and hotel stationery as Davis deploys a painterly language of turbulent strokes, gestural lines, and smudgy wisps to form complex portraits of underrepresented or neglected historic figures, always with an eye on feminist and queer traces.

Davis’ painting At the End of a Perfect Day refers to the 1915 Hollywood black and white, silent movie of the same name that tells the love story of a couple who met in a big city office and realized their true love for each other when Bryant Washburn’s character rescues Gerda Holmes’ from the romantic advances of their brutish employer. 

Week 3:  Joan Nelson

Untitled, 2018
mascara, calligraphic inks, marker, pencil, acrylic, gouache, spray enamel on paper
16 x 16 inches

With her intimate and luminous works, Joan Nelson recontextualizes fragments of historic landscape paintings with her own observations, memories, and inventions. Appropriating elements from artists such as Albrecht Altdorfer, Albert Bierstadt, Edward Hicks, and Caspar David Friedrich, Nelson speaks to the complexity of nature’s representation across time and place, while offering a distinctly feminine and revisionist perspective. The work included in FAIR is from a series of paintings inspired by the writings of Alexander von Humboldt, the 19th Century German naturalist who posited a connection between human activity and changes in the climate, writing, “Everything is interaction and reciprocal.” With the full force of her painterly capacity and technical mastery, Nelson creates a sense of awe for and connectedness with nature.

Week 4:  Paul Swenbeck

Beacon I and II, 2017
cast iron and brass
Beacon I: 18 x 19 x 14 inches
Beacon II: 24 x 12 x 14 inches
PSW 345

For nearly 30 years, Paul Swenbeck has been developing a lexicon of material techniques, forms and symbols employed in his recent work with a remarkable fluency and precision. Indebted to the allegorical works of Hieronymus Bosch and the mystical paintings of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Swenbeck also draws inspiration from his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, site of the infamous witch trials, as well as from Shaker aesthetics, the natural landscape and science fiction. Swenbeck is invested in a highly abstract symbolism where an interest in image finds harmony with formal concerns and tactility.

Made while in residence at the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Beacon I expresses Swenbeck’s interest in the animistic landscape and alchemy. Describing his process, Swenbeck “started by experimenting with carving into the sand mold to create negative shapes that would be filled with molten iron. The essential form comes from landscape and was very free flowing and organic like a drawing.” The vertical element, its shape like a tuning fork, implies the transfer of a signal across great distances.

FAIR, built in partnership with Artlogic, is a new art fair initiative designed to be entirely online, function cooperatively, and act as a benefit for NADA’s community of galleries, nonprofits, and artists. FAIR will directly support over 200 international galleries that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.