A nexus is a central link or connection. If you are at the nexus of something, you are right smack in the middle of it. In this exhibition of William Nelson’s latest large-scale oil paintings, two figures, or groups of figures, are depicted in contrasting styles. The compositions are pairings of Pop Culture icons that would not normally be considered in the same picture plane. The viewer is invited to enter the intersection between the figures to interpret, and reinterpret, the subject of the painting. In other words, the viewer is invited into the nexus to explore the link between the figures. Sometimes what’s going on is intense, however, the playful expression of the paintings empowers further examination of challenging subjects.
Nelson states of the work, that often the paintings are funny, but he is not making fun of anything. These are his favorite images, many dating back to his formative, art-starved years in central Florida. They are images from the Sunday Funnies in the Orlando Sentinel, where the words got in his way as an inordinately visual boy, and Saturday matinees at the Colony Theater, where nothing got in the way of the big screen. Many of these images are from a place where Nelson began to gather his internal visual database, the sweaty south, two generations ago. There, the closest thing to a museum was Disney World, which assumed the mantle of local cultural epicenter from Gatorland, which in turn ran help wanted ads in the Orlando Sentinel for Alligator Wrestler- No Experience Necessary. Nelson still loves Gatorland.
Two of Nelson’s favorite Pop Culture icons are Charles Atlas and Marilyn Monroe. Charles Atlas advertised an exercise program in the back pages of comic books that promised YOU CAN BE A REAL MAN! Nelson says he probably got his first eyeful of Marilyn Monroe on the Channel 9 Dialing for Dollars Movie. Included in this series are kinetic sculptures of Marilyn and Charles. They are large freestanding figures that can literally be animated when the viewer rotates the flywheel mounted on the back. A series of spur gears, attached to the figure, are activated resulting in a surprisingly organic motion. The heart of the work is the space around and between the figures, which includes the viewer, who is an active participant in the existence of the piece.