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Biography

Nadja Gabriela Plein makes abstract paintings characterised by a playful inventiveness. She has recently the Turps Banana Studio Painting Programme.

Nadja’s paintings, drawings and prints are featured regularly in exhibitions in the UK and internationally. She has appeared on Resonance FM, the London South Bank’s arts radio station to talk about the influence of music on her art.

Exhibitions include: Turps 2015-17, Art Bermondsey Project Space, London. 'conducting the surface' at Bearspace, London. 'From Here & There. Drawings from Colorado and Wales'. Clara Hatton Gallery, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. USA; ‘Off the Ground’ with Rowen Arts Project, Islington, London; ‘Resonance’ at Ark Centre in Basingstoke; ‘Drawing 2012’ and ‘Drawing ‘13’ at Swiss Art Space in Lausanne. Her work is included in private collections in the UK, USA, Switzerland and Hungary. Nadja was one of the prize winners at the Print Hub Open, London, in 2015.

Her drawings have been featured in two publication on contemporary drawing published by Swiss Art Space to accompany the above mentioned exhibitions and is featured in Helen Birch's ‘Just add Watercolour’, published by RotoVision.

Before moving into painting Nadja was a composer. She gained a doctorate from the Royal College of Music, won the prestigious Mendelssohn Scholarship, her music has been performed in the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and the USA by leading performers, including the Arditti String Quartet, and was heard on BBC Radio 3 as well as USA radio stations.

 

Artist Statement

I am a painter, making abstract work. There are two main influences on my work from outside the world of painting. The first is my background in music composition. I gained a doctorate in music composition from the Royal College of music (graduated in 2009). One of my main areas of research in music composition was the idea of pausing within a sound world, exploring the possibility of investigating the dynamic nature of sound non-dynamically, from a still place. Gradually this research led me outside of music, following a path of investigating musicality outside of sound.

The second important influence on my work is my Buddhist mindfulness and meditation practice. Mindfulness (whether practiced in daily life or during meditation) is the practice of present-moment awareness watching, and sometimes investigating, things arise and pass within our experience.

It is interesting how intricately linked music and meditation are. Both are acutely aware of time. For music, time is the canvas on which it paints. For meditation, time is the thing that shows us the impermanence of all things. Painting has become my still place from which to watch the flux of things.

The concept of time is central to my practice. It is there is the musical, the rhythm and tempo, the rising and falling of phrases. This comes through clearly in my paintings, in the articulation of my drawings and the placing of mark-making in the overall compositions. My painting and drawing language is full of flux, often creating a sense of instability that suggests impermanence. Time is key in meditation and mindfulness. Present-moment awareness is a stepping outside of time in order to see the unceasing flow of time. It is an interesting paradox that, the more still one becomes the more one can see flux.

My practice is informed by my background in music composition and my meditation/mindfulness practice. My approach to painting is based on improvisation, each action is a mindful investigation of and response to what came before. Like a jazz improvisation, my painting is a conversation based on attentive listening/looking. Each stroke of the brush is deliberate, steeped in present-moment awareness. There is a fruitful duality between openness and concentration.