PRINT March 1989


DONA NELSON PAINTS LANDSCAPES, cityscapes, still lifes, figures, interiors, fireworks, seasons, and rain. In her most articulated paintings many of these genres coexist, forming poetic strata. Nelson’s work is full of allusions to memory, to an ongoing present, and to dreamlike states alike. Her pictorial syntax—simultaneously choppy and fluent, stoic and plaintive, alternately rarefied and rude of tone—suggests the plain-and-fancy flavor we taste in the writing of Wallace Stevens. Nelson draws from life on the outside as well as from what one senses, unmistakably, to be the elaborate inner life of the soulful loner. Her paintings depend as much on straightforward subjects out of what is commonly called the common vernacular as they do on the oblique, the ineffable, the ephemeral.

Through the ’70s and early ’80s Nelson produced a good number of small and middle-sized landscapes and seascapes,

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