Dona Nelson

Artist’s Statement

The two-sided paintings, which I have been making since 2003, have evolved because I have continued to develop masking with materials like gel soaked cheesecloth that block the paint from passing through the canvas, so a painting like And the Sun Went Down is very different on the back, (which was, in the beginning, the front), than the final front, a surface that looks , on first glance, very gestural, but never could have been made directly, because all the lines and marks appear crisply and simultaneously. The front of And the Sun Went Down is an image that is constructed by successive passes with wet paint over non-permeable materials that mask most of the canvas. August 19th and And the Sun Came Up, (both paintings were only worked on what is now the back of the paintings) are constructed stain paintings. If you compare them, for instance, to a Helen Frankenthaler, the fronts of the paintings are quite still. The paint is in the canvas, materially at a remove. Dona Nelson, 2022

Hamill Lecture, Boston University School of Visual Arts, 2021
Watch Video

In making my big two sided abstract paintings, the stretcher is the tool.