A profile of North America’s emerging art talent – Dona Nelson

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Despite coming to the attention of the art world during the 1980s for her large-scale figurative work, Dona Nelson remains one of the most underrated and undiscovered mid-career artists working today.

A student of Malcolm Morley at Ohio State University, Nelson became a painter of abstractions. After moving to New York in 1968 she entered the Whitney Independent Study Program, and during the 1970s pursued Abstract Expressionism. In the early 80s, she turned to painting large scale figures, and in 1996 had a solo exhibition at the Michael Klein Gallery in SoHo, New York.

Discover Nelson’s unorthodox style

A winner of last year’s Artist Legacy Foundation Award, Nelson is renowned for her refusal to play it safe, constantly pushing the boundaries for new approaches and fresh originality.

For this reason, she has long been regarded as a painter’s painter, and the risks she takes with her work have had enormous influence on many young painters.

Most recently, Nelson created a series of two-sided paintings. Striking and exuberant, the paintings were created by stitching patterns into the canvas and painting over them and letting the color bleed through organically. In order to display both sides of the paintings, they are hung at an angle from the wall, jutting out into the gallery itself.

This angle makes the pieces seem aggressive, demanding time and attention which you will not regret giving them. Staring at the paintings, it’s easy to get lost in the almost three-dimensional quality of the stitched shapes and the striking contrast of the colors.

Who are your favourite emerging artists?

Dona Nelson is just one of our favourite emerging artists from around the world. We would love to know who your favourite current artists are, and which paintings are inspiring you at the moment. Please do let us know.