The walls in Liz Nielsen’s Bushwick studio are adorned floor to ceiling with prints, demonstrating the scope and evolution of her work. With influences ranging from Walead Beshty to Ellsworth Kelly, Nielsen’s work touches upon a wide array of interests; color field painting, collage, ancient light from outer space, the mechanics of the human eye, and the found urban landscape are just some of the preoccupations informing her practice. Nielsen admits she spends significant time putting up and taking down images, positioning her work in the space in order to illuminate new and undiscovered dialogues. Considering her past curatorial experience, it is apt that her current practice itself can be said to be one of arranging.
The artist’s obsession with light and color began at an early age. Looking through ziplock bags full of water tinted with food coloring, she altered reality by illuminating her surroundings in a different color. Her most recent body of work consists of photographic prints made from collaged adhesive gels in which transparent colored shapes are composed on glass slides that Nielsen uses as negatives. In the darkroom, Nielsen can’t see anything at all as she works in complete darkness during the printing process. Time, touch, and physical memory are central to her practice, and the interplay of these components influence and inform the finished product: printed geometric formations that exert the mysterious feel of light composed by human hands. Nielsen is intuitive in her compositions, and experimental in discovering how light and time affect color in the finished work. In this sense, Nielsen’s practice is pseudo-scientific. While her previous work drew directly upon the landscape of her everyday experience, including found compositions like sidewalk cracks and telephone lines, Nielsen’s current compositions are inspired by these observations rather than determined by them. Nielsen continues to take and archive photographs every day, and the proliferation of collected images inform her own constructed ones.
Liz Nielsen, Composition 4, Unique C-print(s), 24" x 20", 2012; Courtesy of the artist.
The decision to create her own negatives was influenced by her desire to print in large format, and viewers can expect future compositions to increase in size. Allowing mystery, exploration and openness to guide her practice, we can anticipate new directions in her work as a result of her experimental methodologies. In addition to larger scale works, a continuation of her curatorial practice may be a next step in the artist’s New York career. Nielsen’s work was recently exhibited in the group exhibition People Who work Here at David Zwirner. Keep an eye out for her during GO, an upcoming weekend of open studios in Brooklyn.
(Image on top: Liz Nielsen, Composition 7, Unique C-print(s), 24" x 20", 2012; Courtesy of the artist)