Exhibition - Nathalia Edenmont: Rebirth

Friday, Mar 19, 2021 at 11:00am

Nancy Hoffman Gallery
520 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

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Swedish artist Nathalia Edenmont’s exhibition, “Rebirth,” opens at Nancy Hoffman Gallery. Long fascinated by butterflies, their sheer natural beauty, and their symbolism, Edenmont centers her show around these elusive creatures, creating the largest collages on which she has ever worked, as well as creating garments of iridescent beetles in which she dresses her “sitters” or models.

Known for her images of women wearing dresses composed of fruits and flowers, Edenmont takes, what for her, is the next step, toward dresses composed of luminous creatures –no longer alive-golden, green, iridescent pink, blue, shiny, shimmery beetles.  A beautiful blonde woman sits placidly as a dress is composed around her, a process that takes from 14-22 hours of work for a team of ten people.  Edenmont is the director, the creator, the orchestrator of the photo shoot.  Everything in the photo is real.  It is “shot” with 8 x 10 film.  There is no photoshop, no digital manipulation, no correction of any kind.  The artist has to capture what she wants when she clicks the camera or many sheets of 8 x 10 film, hours of work and cost are gone.    

The artist has attended butterfly fairs all over the world for years to accumulate a sufficient supply of butterflies and beetles to compose her palette.  In the new works, the beetles represent transition.  A young, beautiful body is hidden and transformed by the beetles, taking the form of a pupa; life transforming from one stage to another.  In these portraits, Edenmont continues her exploration of fundamental themes such as birth, death, womanhood, sex, beauty and decay.  The works present us with an implied tension between painting and photography, abstraction and figuration, and most importantly attraction and repulsion.  Like “beauty and the beast” we are drawn in by the beauty and become squeamish when we know the dress is comprised of hundreds of beetles. 

In addition to the four new portraits, Edenmont shows several new butterfly collages, the fruits of over 500 hours of work each.  The collages become the “maquettes” for her monumental scale photographs.  The collages and photographs are composed of hundreds of butterfly wings, all natural and not colorized.  The large-scale photographs, brilliant in color, are what the artist considers her abstract paintings.   

Edenmont was born in Yalta, and moved to Sweden by the time she was 20, realizing that life in the Soviet Union was disintegrating and held no future for her.  Sweden was a country to which she could easily get a visa, being alone in the world after the age of 14, when both her parents had died and she had no other relatives.  At 27, she was accepted to Forsberg Skola, to study graphic design, where an artist mentor encouraged her to visualize her inner pictures and try to capture them with the camera.  It is thanks to Per Hüttner that Nathalia is the photo-based artist she is today.  

All of her work derives from her life experience.  She says: “I only look inside my head.  What I see in my mind is what I create.  I do not sketch; the image is complete and sharp within me.  I have absolute control over all aspects of what I do.”  Using a large format Sinar camera with 8x10 film and many lenses, she works with a team of eight to twelve people over ten to twelve hours to compose a “shot.”  She has two camera assistants, both professional photographers, a hair stylist, a dressmaker, but it is Nathalia who is at the camera, communicating, talking with the model, waiting for the perfect instant to capture the model’s soul on film.  What each figure wears is central to the meaning of each work.  The artist’s “portraits” reflect intensity; each woman is posed against a pitch-black background, the dress the artist composes tells the tale.  

Since the artist’s first US solo in 2014, she has had five US museum exhibitions, along with several European museum exhibitions. Her work has been shown widely in Sweden at Alingsås konsthall, Alingsås; Borås Konstmuseum, Borås; Dunkers Museum, Helsingborg; Halmstads Konsthall, Halmstad; Konsthallen Hishult, Hishult; Kristinehamns konstmuseum, Kristinehamn; Örnsköldsviks Museum, Örnsköldsvik; Sven-Harrys konstmuseum, Stockholm; Backfabrik, Berlin, Germany; l’Institut suédois á Paris, France.  And in the US at Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan; Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle; and Stamford Museum and Nature Center, Stamford, Connecticut.   

She was twice a recipient of Konstnärsnämdens Arbetsstipendium, awarded by the Culture Department, Stockholm, Sweden. 

Her work is included in the collections of Borås Konstmuseum, Borås, Sweden; Kristinehamns Konstmuseum, Kristinehamn, Sweden; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia; Statens Konstråd (Public Art Agency Sweden), Stockholm, Sweden; Whitespace, The Mordes Collection, West Palm Beach, Florida; and 21c Museum, Louisville, Kentucky. 

Exhibition Date: January 7, 2021 - May 8, 2021

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