By Raymundo Muñoz

Exposing our most innate motivations can be a dark and distressing affair; CT Nelson touches the depths of his subject matter in his latest solo show “Thick with Instinct” on display at Knew Conscious Gallery. Employing heavy use of impasto, Nelson’s new batch of work comes off looser and more visceral than his earlier pieces. Though still carefully composed to an extent, these paintings have a wild and harrowing nature to them, disclosing a seductive flirtation with utter chaos/complete disaster.

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 “Back to Life: Victor Is Finally Out of His Box” by CT Nelson. Detail

As such, the emotional punch is heavy. In “Back to Life: Victor Is Finally Out of His Box,” for instance, the subject’s impassioned and strangely blissful expression is contrapuntal to his grotesque and gorgeous disembowelment. Sprouting forth a warped and flowery “bouquet,” there is a well of gut-wrenching feeling expressed in this fount. Drawing inspiration from historical events, Nelson as well depicts various scenes of wartime, focused often on the emotionally-charged marches between battles. In “The Hope, Care, & Concern of a F5,” cavalry soldiers plod along seemingly with little concern for the massive tornado headed their way. At their feet, chips and flecks of paint like a quiet heap of dried leaves in the fall are upended and blown by the wind as a precursor to their eventuality. This cyclonic motif can be seen in other pieces as well, most notably in “Off-Track, On-Track, March On,” wherein sparks and ribbons of light and color playfully explode and melt like taffy in a foreground that is counter to the roiling uptake of souls beyond the crossing tanks. There is a madness at work here, revealing just how much Nelson’s work is like jumping into a black hole, all while clutching the safety rope of history. How deep CT Nelson can go is entirely up to him, but what an enthralling venture it is to behold. On display Oct. 11 – Nov. 7. Photos are from opening reception. 

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“The Hope, Care, & Concern of a F5” by CT Nelson

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“Chaos of One” by CT Nelson. Detail

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“Off-Track, On-Track, March On” by CT Nelson