In this digital age, where experience is becoming increasingly disassociated and virtual, there is a real power in the tactile and physical. And Chicago-based artist Dana Nechmad has been making great use of this to investigate the dynamic tension of female existence.
‘In Tension’, her recent first solo exhibition with New York gallery The Bee in the Lion, addressed issues of sexuality and fertility, pleasure and pain, pushing through and letting go through her textile-based works, which are characterised by rips and folds, sanguine colours and corporeal textures.
That these pieces are instantly arresting is in part a testament to the laborious process behind their creation, which is centred around hand-dying and needlepoint threading.
Nechmad manipulates the materials she employs to become either rigid and unmoving or soft and plush, reflecting the diverse elements of the female anatomy and the polarising ways bodies are perceived. Traces of dye are added to the fibre and subsequently removed by using corrosive chemicals like bleach; a creative act of mark-making simultaneously destroys the canvas.
The aim behind this process of creation and destruction is to convey the visceral nature of physical memory through a female lens; every bruise, every scrape, every touch is recorded and informs the holistic identity. The effect is to embody both the power and fragility of the body, in an original and striking way.