Among the most interesting of a new generation of artists working today, N. Dash explores what painting is precisely by deconstructing and exposing it.
The raw materials of art in their most elemental form are at the core of Dash’s work, playing out in ways that reconsider both their physicality and meaning. Among her earliest works are those created in the palm of the artist’s hand, usually without anyone noticing, as she folds, creases, works and otherwise deconstructs pieces of fabric or paper. For Dash the act of making these works is both a primal necessity and an active means of recording information – she almost always has something working in her hand. Touch becomes an essential medium as the objects are worn down, reformed, altered and transformed into small sculptures. The paper pieces are often then covered in graphite – a medium the artist regularly returns to for its association with the materiality of drawing.
These initially diminutive gestures are source material for Dash’s larger scale wall works that sit squarely at the intersection between painting and sculpture – jutting out into the viewer’s space and often maintaining a density and mass more akin to 3-dimensional work then paint on canvas. The works created for The Arts Club show are composed, in varying combinations, of adobe, jute, canvas, pigment, graphite and embedded twine. Adobe is one of mankind’s earliest building materials and in these works is used as the ground surface. Canvas on the other hand is utilised for its own material qualities, in contrast to its more traditional role as the support for what the artist puts upon it.
Dash’s Brooklyn studio looks out over the Brooklyn Bridge, and the bridge’s imposing order of lines was a key influence in a number of these works, expressed through the use of string – itself line in space and an echo of the steel ropes. As in all of Dash’s works, each material is explored for its own physicality, intelligence and history, brought together into challenging and absorbing concepts with her singular aesthetic.
Born in 1980 and living in Brooklyn, New York, N. Dash currently has a solo show at White Flag Projects in St Louis, Missouri, and another important solo show coming up at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. She has previously been included in numerous group shows internationally, including Painting in Place (curated by Shamim Momin) in Los Angeles, and Everyday Abstract (curated by Matthew Higgs) at James Cohan Gallery, New York.