Liz Nielsen's new colour photograms are made by ‘painting with light’ in the California hills

Cocktail Portal, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Twenty-five new colour photograms will go on display in the first UK solo exhibition by contemporary artist Liz Nielsen.

Her work is a contemporary application of one of the best-known avant-garde photographic processes – the photogram – which was first mastered by Man Ray and Maholy-Nagy at the beginning of the twentieth century. Each unique image is created without a camera by placing objects directly onto photographic paper and exposing them to light.

Nielsen started her career as a painter and is a colourist at heart. She calls her work ‘painting with light’ which refers to the performative nature of its creation. Nielsen replaces the traditional negative with a handmade matrix, built with multiple layers, found light sources and harnessing different wavelengths of the colour spectrum to create rich hues. Creating these pieces can take up to 12 hours per session and up to 100 exposures. The paper she uses is negative rather than positive, reversing the colours and often creating surprising new combinations.

Unlike her previous work which was made in her studio in Brooklyn, the works in ‘The Arrival’ were made during the summer of 2018 in the California hills where she drew inspiration from watching the same view change with the light, thus creating almost a completely new image. For the first time in her practice, Nielsen has re-used her ‘negatives’ with different exposures and layouts to create works which have a dialogue with each other yet remain distinct.

“In this work, I wanted to achieve transcendence through abstraction," Liz explains. "I was searching for anomalies: objects with superpowers or landscape hotspots with vortexes. I looked for shapes and symbols, for mathematical connections that give an order to disorder.

"The images are compositions of these collected shapes, placed strategically in alignment with the cosmos, with the intention of opening channels for quantum vision, creative breakthroughs, or places for collective consciousness to emerge."

Liz Nielsen was born in Wisconsin in 1975 and lives and works in New York City. She graduated with a BA in Philosophy and Spanish from Seattle University, an M.F.A. in Photography at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 2018, Nielsen had exhibitions at Danziger Gallery in New York and SOCO Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina as well as a collaboration with designer Paul Smith in London. She also has work in the J.P. Morgan Chase collection.

The Arrival by Liz Nielsen runs from 1 – 10 March 2019 at Black Box Projects, 10 Hanover Street, London W1S 1YG. To find out more about the contemporary photography gallery, visit blackboxprojects.art.

Cool Mountain Path, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Cool Mountain Path, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Raspberry Portal, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Raspberry Portal, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Day at the Lake, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Day at the Lake, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Underwater Mountains, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Underwater Mountains, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Cosmic Portal II, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects

Cosmic Portal II, 2018 © Liz Nielsen, courtesy of Black Box Projects