Abstraction has been part of Western modernism since the 19th century and even in the wake of conceptual art, relational aesthetics, and a renewed interest in figurative expressionism, the sheer power of abstract imagery is that, like poetry, it can touch our psyches in ways that are more complex than narrative alone.
Tomas Nakada’s recent woven sculptures are an example. In this new work “Narrative, Recycled,” the artist uses cut strips of photographic prints and paper currency to weave a range of shapes, patterns and colors into bright tessellations. Vaguely reminiscent of basket patterns, Nakada has long acknowledged that his travels to north and sub-Saharan Africa and the patterns he saw there in baskets, weavings, architecture, as well as simply observed nature, are a primary influence on his work.
In earlier series, the artist’s interest in patterns of form and color often used imagery taken from microbes or cell cultures. But in “Narrative, Recycled,” Nakada is using photographs taken by his partner, Anne Veraldi (a selection of her photographs is also on display in the exhibition) and currency. The money is leftover bills from a recent trip to Southeast Asia. Even the titles of his works, which he has woven together into new words, are references to the names of places that Nakada has visited. By using the social artifacts of photographs and money, Nakada’s new body of work reminds us that art is neither a monolith nor is it necessarily unique, but rather, its relevance is in its connection to heritage, shared experiences and times.