Discover one-on-one discussions about each artist’s work, between the curator and artists from RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting. Here’s an interview with artist Jordan Nassar.
Jordan Nassar’s favourite subject is landscape. He embroiders his compositions, which are framed by and built up through repeat patterns adapted from traditional Palestinian motifs. At first glance, his scenes seem innocuous enough, comprised of rolling hills rendered sometimes in vibrant shades of red and at others in more muted grays and browns. The hills are framed by a dramatically hued sky: often blue, as one might expect, but sometimes pink or orange. The effect is of distant peaks dappled by the rays of the setting sun in late summer. This idyll, seemingly an abstract view that could well be anywhere, turns out to be imaginary yet specific. Of Palestinian descent but born and raised in New York City, Nassar uses his work to evokes a particular kind of imagined space: the sort of utopian vision of Palestine held by the displaced constituents of the region’s diaspora. In devising these landscapes, Nassar always works from his imagination rather than from photographs. His spaces are visionary and hopeful, but also tinged with the recognition of an inescapable fact—that their realization is foreclosed, at least for now, by political realities. Looking at the artist’s seemingly anodyne landscape images, we are connected to the works’ deeper context by the physical lens through which they are fashioned and framed: the traditional Palestinian patterns from which Nassar composes his canvases.