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James Nelson
 March 30 - April 30, 2017

In this exhibition, James Nelson continues his long-standing engagement with drawing, working in graphite, charcoal and colored pencil on handmade Chinese papers.  All of the small-scaled works here were created outdoors, and are a direct response to observed nature, not only in the visual but also the psychological sense. The larger-scaled works, while created in the studio, were informed by that encounter as well.  He has written the following about this experience:  
 
One of the advantages of drawing is that it can be a portable pursuit. So, like Ishmael in the beginning of Melville’s Moby Dick, when it is a “drizzly November in my soul” and requiring “a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off –then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” For me, rather than go to sea I get behind the wheel of my intrepid Subaru and head to a state park in the southern Catskills. My retreat is less about the landscape and more about silence, isolation and a heightened sensitivity towards the experience of nature.  
 
Nelson employs a rich variety of marks in his drawings, often combining bold gestures with soft and subtle lines in a single work.  In others, discreet lines couple with erasure to create images that appear to ineffably emerge from the paper. Nelson has long used handmade Chinese and Japanese papers and finds inspiration in their variety of tonalities and textures, whether fibrous or smooth.  Although thin and translucent, their long fibers make them surprisingly robust and exquisitely sensitive to the artist’s marks, whether in charcoal or pencil.  
 
Nelson cites a statement by the late New York painter Charles Seliger (1926-2009), who said, “I want my brain to become a magnifying lens for the infinite minutiae forming reality.”  When looking at nature through that lens, Nelson sees an operating principle that is alive and in constant motion. These drawings are his attempt to chase it.
 
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55 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002 212 989 5467 fax 212 989 5642
email info@mckenziefineart.com