Nava Waxman - Rituals


Not all ideas can be communicated through words. Gesture and movement, memory and the sensations of the body have their own language, just as art does. These “languages” and the ideas they communicate cannot be reduced to the simple structures of grammar that shape so much of our understanding.                                                        

Nava Waxman’s work is a laboratory of thought. The remarkable quality of her pieces is in their capacity to focus on the body as an instrument directly linked to a mode of thought. An idea is given the space to evolve through the action of drawing. The body, which is always present by abstraction in Waxman’s works, is capable of both communication and possessing a living memory. This memory is internal and organic. It cannot be accurately represented with spoken or written language. In this latest series of works - by basing her series of repetitions on the starting point of a single action, represented in a movement of the hand applying paint - Waxman creates visual works whose meaning cannot be divorced from the movement that created them. The visual representation of the action becomes analogous to the ritual of the movement itself.

In her early childhood Waxman was a dancer and her work has been very influenced by modern dance. In the artist’s words,

“I’m encouraged at how the language of movement in contemporary dance is completely universal with no need of words to speak. Everything is open with no boundaries and nothing is absolute. It’s a language that’s completely recognizable within our own human instinct.” 

In this repetition series, Waxman designs a kind of botanical choreography that prevents viewers from capturing the precise action of a single moment from among the dance of the brushstrokes as a whole. Our reflex as viewers to try and master everything we see is foiled. We are taken away from our center of easy understanding and offered no vanishing point around which to structure our interpretations. The body unfolds like a tree, without pretense of narrative. 


The exhibition Rituals evolved from Waxman’s subjective imagery and from the act of drawing a single form or object in multiple repetitions. This repetitive ritual of drawing and painting brings to the surface of the artist’s consciousness the many combinations of associations that she and we, the viewer, have with the body and memory. The “ritual” of drawing in repetition is Waxman’s main tool for questioning, searching and developing a conceptual language. With each movement of the hand in a given series the artist expands on a single idea in the form of a line, shape or brushstroke, until it is no longer one idea but the many possibilities present in that idea. The body for her is an expansion, flourishing, in movement, touching what lies beyond through its infinite possibilities.

As viewers, we can find meaning in these works through a dialogue between what is seen and how one responds, based on our unique personal perceptions and the many meaning and ideas which we each associate with the body. Waxman’s pieces can be seen as individual works and as a whole collective memory. These rituals, represented in lines and brushstrokes, do not refer to another reality except themselves.

Throughout her works Waxman uses the pictorial vocabularies of black and monochromatic tones, botanical elements, circular shapes, human curves, and lines that remind the viewer of life and creation through their references to planets and the cosmos, birth, and the round belly of pregnant mother. The artist’s lines create boundaries as well as the awareness that our movements are led and interconnected.

In a culture where language is everything, the physical working of an idea - drawing in repetition - is a complex and fascinating concept that explores all the meanings and the ideas which we send, possess, and receive through non-verbal, non-written means. In the exhibition Rituals Nava Waxman presents works which are actions in themselves, and meanings that require experience, not words, to be understood.