In her sculptures and installations, Nadia Naveau lets personal and collective memories interact in a game of images, symbols, texture, colour, scale, and presentation. The results are works resembling assemblages, that tickle many fancies and open even more stories. Throughout her career, the artist engages in a playful conversation with her own work. 

Her sculptures are typically meeting point of very whimsical elements and stylized, abstracted parts. Every sculpture in part originates from the artist’s enormous collection of photos, photocopies, newspaper and magazine clippings, fragments from thrift shop books on the one hand, and in her instinctive inspiration by motifs and memories ranging from remnants of ancient Greece to a childhood Disney cartoon on the other hand. Her work has been described as “Bernini meets The Simpsons;” a catchy phrase that can never fully cover the intricate thoughts that shape her sculptures and her oeuvre, but does translate the relative absurdity and bold humour nested in her mind, method, and practice.

Nadia’s sketching material is the clay itself. Tactility is one of her prime motivations, as she molds and models her way through the soft and malleable matter, that reacts to her every touch. The clay has a mind of its own. A certain fold might remind the artist of a cartoon from her childhood, or of a statue she once saw in a museum. She will then allow the shapes to guide her, to continue jogging her memory, still guarding a certain degree of abstraction in order not to create an evident representation or a singular meaning. It is important to her that her sculptures are alive and open to personal associations of the viewer, her own intentions aside.

Nadia’s works appear as a puzzle of matter and memories, and this is also true for her oeuvre as a whole. She engages in a continuous game with her own creations, in which she questions her choices and perspective as an artist. Every show is a new game, in which she revisits her oeuvre and practice, her inspirations and memories. Each time, she will place her sculptures in different settings, a new décor or scenery if you will, as she also sees them with fresh eyes. It also allows for personal associations and collective memories to be triggered in different ways, and therefore for the story of her work to continue to new horizons, rather than to repeat itself. Every exhibition, as well as Nadia’s oeuvre as a whole, forms a pictorial puzzle, a fresh visual experience building on references from personal and collective memories, from then and now.

Tamara Beheydt