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Date of birth 01.Jan.09
Place of birth New York, USA
Country of residence United Kingdom
Nina Gehl's work resonates with a sense of the departed spirit of human touch, referring to mental states of melancholy and enigma. By way of approaching the banal and the uncanny through colour and physicality of light, she produces images that are immersed in the notions of memory, decay and loss.
In her most recent work, Gehl has undertaken a series of 'portrait' paintings and drawings of girls and young women. The drawings source a social history referencing residual images of forgotten, lost and unidentified people: found photographs, pictures of missing persons, unidentified relatives posted on websites, gravestone photographs. These lost souls are hauntingly detailed within their individual physiognomy, yet their eyes are missing, through either omission or annihilation. The resulting drawings are disconcerting by confronting the viewer with their 'un-gaze' and their unsettling absence instils the work with a death-mask quality.
Gehl's paintings, in a similar vein, subvert the notion of the historicity of portraiture and confront conceptions of loss. Using a technique of layering, which she has used for years, Gehl uses ash, chalk, sand and oil to build up transparent layers, which then, are 'sealed', either with dry brush, varnish, or both. Through burning and refining her own materials, the process of the completion towards the final paintings seem to materialize from the obverse process of the decomposition of the body.
Working with a reduced and sombre palette the paintings refer to the blackened and faded memories of the darkest side of the human psyche.
In her other work, the figures somehow emerge, if still intangible: ghost-like, washy, in half-shadow, or reduced to a single body-part. Prince Harry is painted thinly so that he almost becomes part of the grass; an evocative hand with a strangely blackened finger; a lone figure, vulnerable against the backdrop of a sea. There is quietude, contemplation, and loneliness.
Painted from photographs and from memory, Gehl's work continues to imply disorientation and uncertainty in what we perceive.
|Exhibitions Missing, 07.Oct - 06.Nov.09, Blyth Gallery, Elsewhere, 25.Jan - 25.Feb.07, Trolley Gallery|
Events The Shoreditch Ball, 15.Oct.09, 7pm until very, very late, East London Art Walk, 21.Mar.09, 3pm, East London Art Walk, 31.May.08, 3 p.m., East London Art Walk, 17.May.08, 3 p.m., East London Art Walk, 08.Mar.08, 3pm, East London Art Walk, 01.Mar.08, 3pm, East London Art Walk, 02.Feb.08, 3pm, East London Art Walk, 26.Jan.08, 3pm, East London Art Walk, 08.Dec.07, 3pm, East London Art Walk, 16.Jun.07, 3pm, East London Art Walk, 26.Jan.07, 3pm