Sense of Self
Before the COVID-19 crisis hit New York, Nicola Tyson had momentarily stepped back from a new group of paintings. This summer, after the worst of the virus had passed, the artist returned to complete the series—only to realize that, as the world around her had changed, her sense of self had shifted as well.
Presented in “Sense of Self,” Tyson’s latest solo show at Petzel, the results broadly explore this transformation. Anchoring the exhibition are four large-scale self-portraits that feature Tyson’s signature, red-headed humanoid figures. Elsewhere, in Bouquets 1–4 (all 2020), these forms appear to partially morph into floral arrangements.
In all, for “Sense of Self,” Tyson has produced a body of work that is reliably strange, occasionally veering toward the absurd: a suitable tone to reflect this moment in history.
Nicola Tyson, Bouquet 1, 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 44 x 36 inches.