ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair: Joshua Nathanson

November 7 - 10, 2019 

Various Small Fires is pleased to present a solo presentation by Los Angeles-based artist, Joshua Nathanson for Art021’s Detour section.

In his newest paintings, Nathanson continues to explore many of the sentiments that run through his recent work – anxieties surrounding a rapidly changing, intensifying world and a sense of isolation from community and nature as they are consumed by new technologies. This time, however, Nathanson uses narrative and dark humor to tackle a tense and uncertain future, portraying quotidian stories of animals that take the place of humans in modern-day civilization. A dichotomy of melancholy and desire unfolds – desire to find vitality, love and harmony in a familiar yet strange and suspect ecosystem.

Subjects include anthropomorphized animals that take out the trash, retrieve cash from ATM machines, gaze self-consciously into mirrors, and breathe amidst industrial smokestacks. Reflecting human weaknesses, impulses and tenderness, these creatures create space for empathy and laughter. In Nathanson’s small works, forms of earthy red, creamy purple and artificial teal conjure the paintings of Édouard Vuillard and Milton Avery seen through the lens of the digital age. By contrast, Nathanson’s large works encompass confident line work and vibrant streaks of color that evoke movement and dynamism. Reading as sketches for frames of an animation, they are snapshots of a larger narrative. A short animation by Nathanson is forthcoming.

In the meantime, Nathanson’s fluid characters and narratives are hyper-pastoral, living in a liminality that is ultimately psychedelic – a changeable present where civilization, industry and nature are constantly converging and diverging, as if to create a new double helix.