frosch&portmann is pleased to present This Tells Me Where I Am, Brad Nelson’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. The artist lives and works in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Brad Nelson’s most recent body of work consists of paintings of the same subject matter—rocks. The blown up solid minerals differ in shape, color tones and surface structure and almost completely occupy the size of the canvas. Embracing an inheritance and welcoming what is given, the painted stones are unabashedly devoted to their sources. Nelson started working on this series in the summer of 2015 in order to explore how to give up control in his studio practice and let artistic concerns more closely reflect his actual life. The only rocks he used as models for his paintings were given to him by his young daughters on their daily walks, which over the past year and a half have become an invented ritual of sorts. Like any relationship or partnership, this process of choosing and editing has gotten more sophisticated and precise; the artist’s daughters seem to have identified the father’s preference for certain rocks as he has found strategic ways to organize the paintings in this prescribed space to allow for historical and conceptual connections. Nelson’s loss of agency and absolute dependence on things handed down to him mirror the ideologies and narratives we inherit that fill up our worldview. The artist is interested in the transformation that is happening during the selection ritual; he thinks of these rocks before they are chosen as possessing a complete history of the world, and then the stones and the paintings themselves serve as simultaneous markers of place, time, ritual, experience, and family to which he can return.