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N. Dash: earth at S.M.A.K.

June 24–November 6, 2022

Materials like earth, paint, plastic bottles, string, agricultural netting, strips of Styrofoam, discarded cardboard, and jute are incorporated into intricate, frequently multi-panel compositions in N. Dash’s paintings. These compositions are inspired by the languages and techniques of sculpture, photography, and printmaking. N. Dash’s artwork emphasizes the conflict between things made industrially and those that are naturally occuring in an ecological perspective that respects the land and its hidden forces with a significant economy of means.

Many of N. Dash’s compositions are built on desert dirt, which is applied in the form of smooth, graded surfaces that dry to form topological fields as they fracture and fissure. These dirt surfaces are typically used as the foundation for several coats of paint, graphite, or ink, suggesting the gradual creation of planetary strata. Materials that recall biological cycles are woven into this feeling of geologic time: In order to create compositions that delicately combine various plant and mineral components, N. Dash embeds and extracts string from the smoothed-earth grounds and paints lengths of cloth in pigment to act as wrapped or hanging pieces.

N. Dash’s habit of manufacturing tiny fabric sculptures shows an obsession with dismantling and remaking. N. Dash literally unfastens a structured industrial product to create a new form that amplifies the power of touch, gesture, and ritual by working small pieces of machine-loomed fabric between fingers and thumb for extended periods of time until the gridded threads collapse into suggestive, disorderly tangles. The depravity of these prelingual totems is further removed from the viewer in the finished compositions when the fabric sculptures are shot and then silkscreened as enormously magnified replicas of themselves. The unpredictable strangeness of each sculpture serves as a projective tool at this point, allowing a visitor to envisage any number of different forms. It is only one of the silkscreen applications that appear in N. Dash’s work that charge it with a polarity between industrial production conventions and the organic world.

A dedication to the energy of transformation, movement, and care lies at the heart of N. Dash’s work. Beyond a simplistic nature against society dichotomy, the soil grounds split and solidify as water evaporates; multi-panel compositions resemble architectural plans and man-made structures, while the presence and impressions of imbedded strings resemble irrigation conduits or energy meridians. The more current compositions by N. Dash include brand-new collections of pre-made tools for order, protection, and cleaning, like broomsticks, rulers, and rags. At the core of N. Dash’s compositions is this straightforward attitude of custodianship: by utilizing the power of human creativity and touch, ordinary materials are transformed into sublime, life-giving forms.

N. Dash was born in Miami, Florida in 1980 and earned a BA from New York University in 2003 and a MFA from Columbia University in 2010. N. Dash lives and works in New York and New Mexico.  Recent solo exhibitions (include among others) the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, WA (2019); Fondazione Guilliani, Rome (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2014) and White Flag Projects, St. Louis, Missouri (2013). The works have also been featured in thematic exhibitions such as Open Ended: Painting and Sculpture, 1900 to Now, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA (2022); Body Ego, Dallas Museum of Art, TX (2018); Third Space: Shifting Conversations about Contemporary Art, Birmingham Museum of Art,  Birmingham, AL (2017); Repetition and Difference, Jewish Museum, New York (2015); The Possible, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA (2014); Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process, Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, MO (2012).

Jan Hoetplein 1
9000 Ghent
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 9:30am–5:30pm,
Saturday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +32 9 323 60 01
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