URBAN MYTHS AND LEGENDS WITHIN CLOUDS OF NARRATIVE
                                                                           SASHA GRISHIN                            p.1    p.2   p.3  p.4  p.5  notes
confusing and seductively fascinating. Recurring motifs like television sets, fluttering papers, photographic stills, office and bedroom furniture appear as irrational props within vast, multilayered and multiriered structures, inhabited by men in dinner suits and the occasional dressed-up femme fatale. Neilson generally painted on a large scale, hinting more at wall murals than following the tradition of small and discrete easel paintings.

In his more recent works there is a greater confidence in the handling of the forms and in the assertion of these strange realities. The big picture, 1999-2000, was painted over a six-month period and in it one can see a culmination of many of the artist's

beginning and end, but as a series of fragments of stories as told in the city - urban myths, legends - not known stories, they are created as the painting is created. I don't start with something resolved in my mind, you arrive there without knowing how you got there, it seemed logical while in the process of work. It is like being inside and outside the work simultaneously."13

In another painting, History rising... to claim us all (as we drink in God's mercy), 2000, the clouds of narrative language elements are dense to the point of impenetrability as the violently swaying light bulbs forebode an eschatological atmosphere. Photographs creep out of drawers, voyeuristic figures peer out of mirrors, while the only hint of salvation lies in irony at the entrance to God's Mercy Bar. The surface is animated and mysterious, inviting you to enter the picture space, where you are provided with an avalanche of competing discourses and contradictory clues. Dawn over Birdland (Do nothing till you hear from me/And you never will), 2000, appears almost like a continuation of the preceding painting, like revisiting a recurring nightmare. While none of the compositions is time specific, the reference to the dawn in the title suggests that it may be a little later the same night, the figures are a little more weary, while the barmaid, behind the counter, stares out of her mirror dreaming of the bar at the Folies-Bergeres.

In Plotting... you know, one thing leads to another, 2000-2001, the play with scale and levels of reality has become even more acute. A figure seems to climb out of a photograph, which dwarfs him in scale, and then seems to engage with the world of a television set. The viewer is confronted with a number of competing realities which are interwoven by the fluttering curtains of a backdrop. In the little stage space above, there appears to be some sort of an executive, ecclesiastical conspiracy, whose deliberations seem to float down in clouds of papers to the confused administrative level where different realities confront the hook of the law. This is also possibly Neilson's first painting where pencils make an appearance, on one level, in possible homage to John Brack, while on another, a touch stone of reality, a physical object which has presence and scale and which finds its reflection in the mirror, while at the same time stressing the flatness of the picture plane.

As one enters into Neilson's world of make-believe, there appears a common cast of characters, nocturnal situations and recurring obsessive images. In The photographer's daughter (getting lost in make believe), 2001, we have the eccentrically 

The politics of lunch 1991 charcoal, compressed charcoal and chalk 60 x 85 cm
Private collection
earlier concerns. The picture space is tight, ambiguous, but not claustrophobic, and within the composition you move from the interior to the vast exterior spaces, where next to a close-up image you may encounter a miniature stage set. It is a place where mirrors, mannequins and models seamlessly pass from one reality to the next. At one moment all of the world seems a stage with the props being carefully lifted into place and the man-made stars on a curtain being nailed into the firmament, while a second later you notice a photographer with her large plate camera observing the scene from the background, shown as the perspectival vanishing point of the composition. Also the whole world seems swamped with papers, fluttering and sliding off desks and benches. The artist claims no authoritative reading for the work, he is as much a participant and witness to these narratives the viewer. "I see narrative now, not like a story with a