Nina Johnson is proud to present Bella donna, an exhibition of new sculptural works by Nevine Mahmoud, opening on November 9th with a public reception (7-9pm), and remaining on view until January 4th. Taking place in the downstairs gallery and courtyard, the intimate exhibition is centered around a major outdoor sculpture: a 300-pound cherry made of hand-polished Portuguese marble. Topped with a 10 foot-tall stem springing into the sky, the gleaming fruit holds court like an impossible detail of a Renaissance still life.
Inside the gallery are a series of wall-mounted sculptures of blown glass. These fragments of the female figure’s erogenous zones—a breast, a bust, a leg—entice the viewer into standing close, beckoning on the precipice of touch. And yet they are not without violence and abstraction. They evoke classical statuary, abstracted by the ages. The play between the glass and stone is at the heart of Mahmoud’s practice. There’s a litheness, a humor that tempts then rebuffs. The cherry’s refined surface is achieved by weeks of fastidious sanding and polishing, yet the glass is a product of speed and chance. For Mahmoud, the act of making is inseparable from the made; the verb and noun fuse.
The works in Bella donna are both unique and versions: Mahmoud invests each unique piece with strategies of reproduction. Though glass works are created in a mold, each is encoded with the particularities of both the material and the act of its making. Mahmoud arrived at the form of the cherry via a series of sculptures of peaches, methodically exploring how the the fruit’s formal and symbolic qualities shift and layer. The result is a singular body of work that puts fresh polish on the history of sculpture, causing easy interpretation to glance off the surface.