Bob Nickas, Los Angeles, 2017.
Hardcover, 144 pp., 70 color, 5 bw illustrations, 9 x 10.25 inches.
his volume catalogs Vija Celmins’ (born 1938) first new body of work since 2010, featuring paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures.
The Latvian-born, New York–based artist has been rendering nature imagery from black-and-white photographic sources since the 1960s, exploring the same subjects repeatedly in paintings, drawings and prints. Here, she focuses on two motifs she has employed for several decades: the ocean’s surface and the night sky. The imagery, however, is not her foremost concern: “The recognizable image is just one element to consider. The paintings seem more a record of my grappling with how to transform that image into a painting and make it alive.” This process can be seen in A Painting in Six Parts (1986–87/2012–16), a group of six oil paintings based on a photograph she took 50 years ago from a pier in Venice, California.