By Sandra Schulman
As an art star from an extremely young age, Alexandra Nechita has matured into a thoughtful, forceful, sophisticated artist.
Born in Romania, Alexandra immigrated to the United States before she turned two. She began drawing as a toddler, and by seven had her first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. At 11 she had already sold over $1.5 million of her art, and was soon on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and designed the 39th Annual Grammy Awards program.
But all that early attention and success didn’t go to her head. In an artist’s statement, she says:
“It is the human condition to find someone to blame, to point the finger on the opposite side of the street, when in fact looking in the mirror is the only way to a resolution. This year it has become abundantly clear to me, both as a woman and an artist, that while accountability can be burdensome, it is the only way towards growth.”
Speaking by phone from Los Angeles where she lives with her husband, daughter and three dogs, she elaborates on what she means by that, and about her current show and upcoming appearance at Onessimo Fine Art in Palm Beach.
“While art is an egotistical practice and therapeutic, the experience for me of storytelling about my life experience, play a formative part in my process. But as I’ve gotten older, well, even as a kid, I realized it was a platform that made my voice louder and bigger.
“So I talk about the issues that I felt were important from the concept of peace and racism and things that we were supposed to fundamentally know from a young age. Kindness and graciousness: I was already painting about subject matter like that when I was a kid.”
Nechita says that as she has grown, she is more comfortable using her platform for impact.
“I really have come to find a very comfortable seat in the purposefulness of art and the intention that it can have, the impact that it could have and the change that it could actually galvanize when you implement all of those things. I found that my responsibility is no longer just myself and my own personal growth and journey, and the things that I live day in and day out that I ultimately express on my canvas or whatever material I’m working with.”
Her new work features paintings in a Cubist-Chagall hybrid style, classic yet uniquely modern and lyrical with sophisticated colors. There are new line drawings. A sculpture of a unicorn in a jacket with a violin begs for an operatic story to accompany it.
“I now understand the full responsibility that I think all artists have,” Nechita says “whether they’re painters or writers or anyone that is able to engage an audience in some degree has a duty that is greater than their own personal intimate agenda.”
Romania and all of Eastern Europe is in turmoil now with the Ukranian war, and Nechita keeps her ties there.
“I’ve lived in the States since I was a baby, since I was two years old, but I’m very tied culturally in terms of relationships that I still have and maintain. I take my children back every summer, my husband and I have that connection, but more literally and specifically to what you’re trying to address, my husband is Ukrainian, so in that sense, we’re very deeply connected.”
As far as her artwork she thinks that “subconsciously and just the emotional toll that it takes on us observing from a distance what’s happening and feeling so helpless, I think that surely somewhere somehow creeps into the work and into anything else that we do.”
“This exhibition will have an interesting collection of paintings. It has some pieces from a couple of years, one important one being an image that was used for a mural that I did in Hollywood, California, on Hollywood and Highland about a year and a half ago. It’s called ‘Setting the Stage,’ which is the title of the exhibition.”
“It’s a very important piece and very much speaks to the accountability that I try to assign to myself with my work and with what I try to say with my painting. I also went on an unexpected, prolific painting rush in the last couple of weeks, and just busted out nine new canvases that I really wanted to share.”
She says they were reconciling some thoughts about intuition and feelings after having gone through an interesting series of experiences with some professional relationships.
Now that she has had many years to process her early success, she says that “I could have had much more painful confrontations with that reality had it not been for my parents being as amazing as they were, and constantly trying to make sure that I was having as normal of a life as possible despite not attending school regularly and not interacting with my peers.”
“I think now having my own kids also, it makes me sort of look back and go, wow, those are really developmental years that I devoted to a career … and the accountability that I had for all the people working under me. The fact that I was seeing a shift in my family’s comfort and lifestyle and being able to do that was such a gift.
“This question was the attention and glamour associated with that part of my life. It did give me a lot of assets and it did give me a lot of tools because I was interacting with people much older all the time, and also gave me subject matter that weaves its way in and out of my work here and there from this immigrant little girl in a world filled with macho men. It’s been a lot of concepts and existential issues that I had to bring to the surface sooner than other people do.”
Nechita agrees that art is ultimately a long game.
“Anything worth it is a long game. It also depends what you’re in it for. I had no idea that I was set to be doing this for the rest of my life. There was a lot of sensationalism attached to the beginning of my career, but it so happened that I actually really am obsessed with art making, regardless of all the noise that was surrounding my career, the skepticism.”
Alexandra Nechita: Setting The Stage runs through Jan. 31 at Onessimo Art, 256 Worth Ave., Amore Via, Suite T, Palm Beach. Alexandra Nechita will be at Onessimo from 5 pm to 8 pm Friday, 2 pm to 5 pm Saturday, and 2 pm to 5 pm Sunday.