McKenzie Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent drawings by James Nelson. This is the Brooklyn-based artist’s seventh solo outing with the gallery.

James Nelson has long created drawings with graphite, charcoal, and pastel on handmade Chinese or Gampi papers. From show to show, his imagery has been either abstract or representational. In this body of work, created from 2021 to 2023, the works are abstract. As always, they display a wide variety of mark-making, from all-over fields of subtle, discreet, and careful lines to more expressionistic, bold, and emotional gestures. They are characterized by an intensity of focus which rewards slow and careful viewing.

Nelson has written the following about this body of work:

Glass breaks. It’s a statement of fact. Over the past four years I’ve been confronting, avoiding and accepting facts. My father died. What followed was a series of contacts notifying friends and family, event planning, paperwork, and disentanglements. Emotional disconnection seemed beneficial to the tasks at hand. It was not beneficial to drawing. I wasn’t sure there would be another show.

My father was a theologian. He spent his days studying and thinking about God. I left the church my sophomore year of college. It created a rift between us. But we eventually got to a place where we respected each other’s positions and found points of common ground. My drawings were part of an ongoing conversation I was having with my father.

There is an experience that I’ve had while drawing these drawings that I haven’t found a word for yet. It’s a moment when a mark is made and unmade at the same time when something forms and vanishes in the same instant. It would have been an interesting question for my father. Is there a theological term for when the act of creation is also its opposite? It’s a relief that drawing doesn’t require language or answers. Glass Breaks is what happened on the way back to feeling something, facts accepted while in conversation with the void.

James Nelson was born in 1966 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He studied sculpture at California State University and has been using drawing as his primary medium since moving to Brooklyn in 1990. Since the mid-1990s Nelson has exhibited in gallery and museum group shows throughout the United States and in London, and numerous solo exhibitions in New York and Philadelphia. His work has been reviewed by Art in America, The New York Times, and The New York Sun, among others.