Los Angeles

Margaret Nielsen


Margaret Nielsen’s small obsessive panels suggest the stuff that dreams are made of. These 4-by-5-inch, densely painted views of forests, lakes, and campgrounds might have described some idyllic world of carefree leisure. But no, nature has taken a dramatically sinister turn. Four men in a canoe paddle through the waves and flames of a lake caught on fire. A child’s swing is suspended over a swirling pool of water filled with writhing snakes. Two trees fight for footing in an angry vortex, tethered together by a stout rope. A group of campers enjoy the evening glow of a warm fire while a burning comet plummets toward them through the treetops. This is an inverted world, familiar in its individual elements but obeying unfamiliar rules hostile to man and ultimately to nature itself.

Nielsen’s tightly focused narratives establish an emotional climate of tension, fear, and wonder even as her

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the February 1985 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.