Nicole Wittenberg: Distant Waters

February 24th - April 1st, 2023
  • Nicole Wittenberg: Distant Waters, Installation View. Photography by Greg Carideo

Nina Johnson is pleased to present Distant Waters, a solo exhibition featuring all new works by artist Nicole Wittenberg. Opening February 24th in the Main Gallery, the exhibition presents various bodies of water that the artist has visited and explored through a series of drawn and painted studies. Distant Waters is the first exhibition by Wittenberg to focus solely on this subject matter, and will coincide with a forthcoming permanent public installation by Wittenberg in Miami, which demonstrates the artist’s fluid relationship to scale in her works, a scale which ranges from notebook size to sizable canvases.

  • Nicole Wittenberg, The Aegean, 2022, Oil on canvas, 56 x 60 in.
  • Nicole Wittenberg: Distant Waters, Installation View. Photography by Greg Carideo

Water has been a significant theme for Wittenberg, and for the past six years, the artist has created pastel drawings of ponds, oceans, and seas captured at various points and times throughout the day. For Distant Waters, Wittenberg transforms the pastels into large-scale oil paintings—a technical and artistic advancement for the artist—allowing for a visual translation of the water’s weight, movement, and transparency.

  • Nicole Wittenberg, Andaman Sea Study 4, 2022, Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 in.
  • Nicole Wittenberg: Distant Waters, Installation View. Photography by Greg Carideo

Distant Waters features new works inspired by the Aegean Sea, the Caribbean Sea, the Andaman Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. Based on personal studies Wittenberg drew while on boats and beaches, the brushstrokes of the plein air paintings have a vastness and fluidity that imitates the rhythm and currents of the sea. Mirroring the infinite hues and tones distinguishable by sunrise and sunset, each painting is its own experience for both the artist and the viewer.

  • Nicole Wittenberg, Savannah Sound 4, 2023, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in.

“It’s my hope that in these paintings I’ve been able to express the vastness and freedom that comes from the experience of seeing the horizon of the sky as it meets the sea. I found that all over the world this relationship with the horizon is unique to each time and place, and carries with it all of the significance and intensity from mythology, as a through line to the wonderment I can recall from my earliest childhood memories of sunsets over the Pacific Ocean,” said Nicole Wittenberg.

  • Nicole Wittenberg, Andaman Sea Study 2, 2022, Oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in.
  • Nicole Wittenberg: Distant Waters, Installation View. Photography by Greg Carideo

“Working with Nina Johnson over the past eight years has been an amazing opportunity. In this collaboration for the mural project and reflected in these paintings she has continued to encourage me to develop this complicated theme of the water in painting.”

Distant Waters is on view through April 1, 2023.

  • Nicole Wittenberg, Sunset 35, 2023, Oil on canvas, 72 x 72 in.
Nicole Wittenberg

Nicole Wittenberg (born 1979) is an American artist based in New York City. She is a curator, professor, writer, and painter. Wittenberg was born in San Francisco, CA, and received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2003. She received the American Academy of Arts and Letters coveted John Koch Award for Best Young Figurative Painter in 2012. From 2011–2014 she served as a teacher at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, and Bruce High Quality Foundation University, and in 2017 she was a professor in the Critical Theory Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Wittenberg’s works are included in many prominent collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The Albertina, Vienna, Austria; the Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA; and others. Exhibitions include The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men at Cheim & Read Gallery, New York, NY; Painter’s Painters: Gifts from Alex Katz, High Museum of Art Atlanta, GA; and In Her Hands, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, NY.