Opium & Candy

Sprone Westwater

May 5 – June 25, 2005

Press Release

Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Nabil Nahas on view in our Terrazzo Gallery. A site-specific installation, the exhibition includes two wall- and eye-filling paintings hanging opposite one another surrounded by twenty-one small paintings on wood panels. Made of stones of colored matter—suggesting minerals from which pigments are ground-- cast acrylic shells, pumice, and various other materials, the small paintings suggest a kind of Theme and Variations, as their bright colors, layered texture and line drawings of spiral forms appear on a grand scale in the large paintings. According to Carter Ratcliff, "For Nahas, color is not coloring. It is the substance of his forms … By turning color into forms—or making forms of sheer color—Nahas has narrowed dramatically the gap between what an abstract image is, in physical fact, and what it becomes as we follow its allusions into the realm of the imaginary.” This observation holds true for the artist’s new work, as the large paintings saturate the room with gold luminescence and pink and purple hues, while maintaining a notable physicality and presence that literally encompasses the viewer. Nahas has commented, “Nature, geometry, is the beginning of everything: the golden section coming out of the way a stem grows.” Thus, these paintings with their biomorphic shapes and coral-like surfaces seem to replicate nature for they look as though they could have only evolved or grown spontaneously. As viewers, we must remind ourselves that the forms before us were actually made of paint, with a brush, a realization that confirms that Nahas is a painter who has truly redefined and reinvented his medium and its possibilities. Born in 1949, Nahas earned his M.F.A. at Yale University in 1973 and has exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad over the last three decades. His work was included in the 25th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil in 2002, and currently, his work is on view in a one-man show at Galerie Xippas in Paris, France, through May 28, 2005. This is his third exhibition at Sperone Westwater.