We are pleased to announce A’Driane Nieves’ debut exhibition at VSF, self-evident truths. Combining paintings on canvas and paper with new explorations in neon and audio installation, this ambitious exhibition is also Nieves’ first on the West Coast.

Nieves’ dynamic gestural abstractions extend from a writing practice and the therapeutic potential of movement, composition, and color. A self-taught painter of over a decade, Nieves began making work after a therapist suggested painting might be a somatic path through which the artist could move to overcome the impacts of childhood abuse, particularly emotional suppression. Despite, or perhaps because of the weightiness of this genesis, Nieves’ paintings often carry an energy of joyful, empowered liberation. Her origin as a self-taught painter also belies the sophistication of her palette and compositions, which are inspired by the work of Joan Mitchell, Cy Twombly, Bernice Bing, Alma Thomas, and Mary Lovelace O’Neal. Nieves’ work also suggests an opportunity to re-assess the type of mark-making that made these older artists so influential. Comfortably announcing her neuro-divergence, Nieves has related the physicality of her practice to “stimming,” or the repetitive and sometimes compulsive movements many neuro-diverse people engage in to self-soothe.

Nieves’ recent work queries the policing of emotionality and the gaslighting of marginalized and divergent experiences within normative society. self-evident truths is a wry play on the US Constitution’s famous refrain (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…"), which asks “Whose truths? self-evident to whom?” Nieves’ ebullient paintings are exercises in dismantling her internalized conditioning and finding her truth by side-stepping “the weaponization of intellect against emotion” through an embodied and intuitive approach to painting.

The works in self-evident truths emerge from an iterative 20-year-long process of divesting from harmful beliefs and systems to create, within and around herself, a reality and way of being rooted in liberation and resisting oppression ranging from the denigration of emotionality to racist and ableist structures within our economy, built environment, and political discourse. Many of the works in the show begin with writing on the surface of the canvas, which is either gessoed over or eventually rendered illegible through the layering of other marks.

One of the largest works in the show, an understatement (America’s Got a Problem), is embellished with text in blue neon that mimics the artist’s handwriting over the surface of dense black and red abstraction. Elsewhere a standalone neon sculpture, also mimicking the artist’s handwriting reads Logic is a beast separating my flesh from bone. Between these two pieces of text emerges a set of ideas and confrontations with the rejection of emotionality and prioritization of rationality and logic in contemporary culture. Therein lies a critique of the punitive responses often articulated by police, government, and fellow citizens when one of us acts out of the narrow boundaries of the “norm”. They harbor the anguish of watching social support systems and our political system degrade far beyond the point of being functional, let alone meeting the idealistic promises of the United States of America as a “city on the hill.”

A’Driane Nieves (b. 1982, San Antonio, Texas, lives and works in the Greater Philadelphia Area) This fall, Nieves will have her first solo museum exhibition at Le Consortium Museum in Dijon, France. Her work has been exhibited internationally at Art Basel (Switzerland), Frieze (London), Art021 Shanghai; Galerie Marguo (Paris, France), Lawrence Van Hagen Art,(Hong Kong, China), and Bode Projects(Berlin, Germany). Her work can be found in collections across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, including the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Dangxia Art Space, Beijing, Spurs Collection in San Antonio, USA, and the Rennie Museum, in Vancouver, Canada.