Rose Nestler and Veronika Pausova at Public Gallery

Artists: Rose Nestler and Veronika Pausova

Exhibition title: Exoskeleton

Venue: Public Gallery, London, UK

Date: May 29 – June 29, 2024

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Public Gallery, London

Public Gallery is pleased to present Exoskeleton, a duo exhibition of painting and sculpture by artists Rose Nestler and Veronika Pausova. Through a shared theatricality and penchant for the absurd, Nestler and Pausova negotiate provisional relationships with familiar objects, balancing a symbiotic web of interdependent elements left purposefully unresolved in a perplexing matrix of gesture and form.

Referencing motifs present throughout her oeuvre – eggs, flowers, broomsticks, fabric-clad legs, and high-heeled shoes – Nestler’s compositions invite unbridled associations to run amuck. A fragmented body sits within the house-shaped frame of Cord Cutting (2024), its title a reference to an umbilical cord and the artist’s recent childbirth. The composition embraces a disquieting stillness and severing absence – a cavity occupies the figure’s torso, and rubber-gloved hands extend from the base of the frame, eliciting the discomfort of unwelcome touch. In several works, Nestler constructs miniature doll-house vignettes containing empty chairs, absent of figures but littered with spills, mops and brooms – calling to mind the monotony of domestic chores as well as profound cycles of loss and repair. Like the eggs slapped to the door of Vanity Closet (2024), meaning is slippery in Nestler’s sculptural forms, blinking from moments of darkness to childish humor and heartfelt sincerity.

Flowers sigh and playfully droop in Pausova’s stage-like compositions, marked by character driven elements rendered in a vast assembly of painterly expression, from frottage to hyper-realism to trompe-l’œil, demonstrating the diverse potential of oil paint on canvas. A spilled yolky center dominates the composition in Sticky, Bright Light (2024); moths hover above the honey glazed canvas, their manic gravitation towards its glow announces their senseless longing. Dotted lights crystalize into focus, resembling sperm-like cells penetrating beyond the frame of Pausova’s infested composition. Dressed In (2024) echoes the exhibition’s title, where hangers uphold the skirt of a dress turned inside-out like a hard exterior shell. Nipples dangle from the hanger hooks, resembling dials on a medical monitor and resurfacing the identification of subject-as-patient.

Nestler’s wall-bound broomsticks are chillingly static in Baby Steps (2024), opening a dialogue with Pausova’s White Sock (2024), together revealing how bright colors and floral signage can simultaneously be friendly and repressively still. Yet Pausova’s pentagon shaped houses thrust ahead with an untethered freedom that mimics both artists’ surrealist approach to composition and form – such dynamism can also be noted in Nestler’s Transference (2024), which leans forward as if mid-step. Nestler’s plush gym bag with arms raised invites the same sensation: we have somewhere to be. These animated fragments, deliberately buoyant with unnerving tension, demonstrate a kinship between Nestler and Pausova, who echo one another with attentive whispers and playful winks.

Rose Nestler (b. 1983, Spokane, WA) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She holds an MFA from Brooklyn College and BA in Art History from Mount Holyoke College. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Pangée, Montreal, QC (2023); Mrs., New York, NY (2022); Carvalho Park, New York, NY (2022); and Public Gallery, London (2021). Selected group exhibitions include Plains Art Museum, Fargo ND (2024); The University of Leeds’ Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds, UK (2023); UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles, CA (2023); Boston University, Boston, MA (2023); Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby, UK (2022); Perrotin, New York, NY (2022); Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2021); and Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York, NY (2022). She was an artist in residence at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans in 2022. Nestler has also conducted residencies at The Fores Project, London, UK, and The Lighthouse Works, Fishers Island, NY, among others. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA, USA.

Veronika Pausova (b. 1987, Prague, Czech Republic) lives and works in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. Selected solo and two-person exhibitions include Simone Subal Gallery, New York, NY (2023, 2019, 2017); Esker Foundation, Calgary, Canada (2022); Bradley Ertaskiran, Montréal, Canada (2021, 2018); The Sunday Painter, London, UK (2021); and Hunt Kastner, Prague, Czech Republic (2018). Selected group exhibitions include Bradley Ertaskiran, Montréal, Canada (2023); Hunt Gallery, Toronto, Canada (2022); Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art, Rizhao, China (2022); Perrotin, Paris, France (2022); Taymour Grahne Gallery, London, UK (2022); Santander Art Gallery, Madrid, Spain (2020); Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada (2019); and Oakville Galleries, Oakville, CA (2018). In 2023, the Esker Foundation published a catalog of Veronika Pausova’s work titled ‘Fast Moving Sun’. Her work is part of permanent collections including Banque Nationale, Canada; Claridge, Montréal, Canada; Equitable Bank, Toronto, Canada; Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal, Canada; Rachofsky House, Dallas, USA; Royal Bank of Canada, Canada; Scotiabank, Canada; Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art, Rizhao, China; Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK.