IN BRIEF: In Val Nelson’s new exhibition opening at Bau-Xi Toronto on May 18, her quietly sensuous paintings contrast images of present-day visitors at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin with darkly gleaming objects encased in vitrines at Charlottenburg Palace.
Acknowledging numerous art-historic influences including Menzel, Giacometti, and Manet, the artist uses her travel photos as a stepping-off point from which to enter into what is, for her, more interesting terrain - the language of paint. Her challenge as a painter is to identify when the work hovers in a compelling way between realism and abstraction. “There is no end to a painting, only the moment at which one decides to stop.”
“I find the process of building a painting from a photograph really fascinating—what happens when the fidelity of the copy is in question, when the image is a bit flawed. I think that’s where the interesting stuff happens. So I don’t project the image, I find it important to draw it the hard way, using just my eye and my hand.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Formerly a ballet dancer, then honours graduate of Media Arts at Emily Carr College of Art + Design, at the age of twenty-eight Nelson received the Helen Pitt Award, for which she was immediately included in a group exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. A 2003 semi-finalist in the Royal Bank Canadian Painting Competition, she was recently a resident at the Vermont Studio Center on scholarship. In late 2013 her work will be included in the International Painting Annual 3 published by the Manifest Creative Research and Drawing Center, with essays by Matt Metzger and Willie Robertson.
Collections of her work include the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Canada Council Art Bank, the Online Artist Registry of White Columns in New York, and numerous private collections in Canada, the US, the UK, and Dubai.
Val Nelson gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.