Sophia Contemporary is pleased to announce Portal, the first two-person show of American artists Iva Gueorguieva and Dona Nelson. Gueorguieva and Nelson come from two successive generations of artists whose work is at the forefront of contemporary abstraction in the United States. Through painting and sculpture, both artists grapple with the history of painting, redefining abstraction and challenging the material and conceptual boundaries of their media. The exhibition initiates an intergenerational visual dialogue through fifteen works including Iva Gueorguieva’s vibrant acrylic and collage works and Dona Nelson’s signature double-sided freestanding paintings. Portal will open to the public with a talk by both artists from 6-7PM on Thursday, March 15, 2018 followed by a private view from 7-9PM. The exhibition will remain on view through May 3, 2018.
Portal will demonstrate how Gueorguieva and Nelson question the intrinsic flatness of the canvas by exploring the sculptural properties of painting, in particular through the use of collage and the deconstruction of the form through the process of cutting, dyeing, ripping, gluing, and painting on both sides of the canvas. While collage is an integral part of both artists’ work, they use it in different ways: Nelson controls the composition of her paintings by erecting physical boundaries on the canvas with gauze soaked in glue while Gueorguieva uses various means to push and move the colour as it gets absorbed by the raw canvas.
The artists became friends after Gueorguieva studied under Nelson’s supervision at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia in the late 1990s. This exhibition will display the artists’ shared interest in pushing the boundaries of their media, as well as the intensive process and labour involved in challenging painting’s two-dimensionality. Portal refers to an opening through which one passes with one’s body, alluding to the the physicality of Gueorguieva and Nelson’s approach to painting.
Often associated throughout art history with the Jackson Pollock myth of the individual male painter expressing his physical prowess on the canvas, Abstract Expressionism has been recently reassessed by casting a new light on female artists who played an important role in the movement such as Lee Krasner or Grace Hartigan. Portal furthers the dialogue about the continued significance of American women abstract painters.