The de Menil Gallery Archive

"Icons" by Nelson Da Costa

September 18–November 12, 2017
Paintings by Nelson Da Costa
Each piece in Da Costa’s oeuvre is linked to a larger narrative, derived from observations from his life in Angola as a child, his exodus to Cuba for his studies, and his immigration to the United States.
His works are based on memories—Da Costa calls his creative process the door to “the spiritual world of my past.” Many of Da Costa¹s early works address the destruction, poverty, and despair wrought by war, based on his own survival of the Angolan civil war and the tragic loss of his family. More recently, he has begun to explore themes of the present and future, particularly his experiences and encounters with American culture. Drawing on the many influences from his tumultuous life, Nelson transmutes memory and strife into a stark allegory of subject and shape.