Offering a compelling commentary on the pursuit of novelty juxtaposed with present day urgency of consumerism, sculptor Charlie Nesi dives into the intricate interplay between societal structures to reevaluate modern connection to heritage, communities, and the environment.
Repurposing Form & Function
Charlie Nesi is a multidisciplinary artist hailing from New York City, currently living in Mexico City, whose work juxtaposes the utility of found material between societal classes. Through modernist sculpture, Nesi abstractly articulates the coexistence of the wealthy and the working class, examining the relationship of social and economic disparities through the act of making art.
Lately, Nesi has investigated how natural, organic materials are used between cultures—understanding the differences between the use of brass in New York City and that of Mexico City. Nesi’s show ‘Catharsis’ used reconstructed materials like brass, concrete and aluminum, that are ubiquitous across households, to question the power and purpose these materials have on the culture.
Focusing on the future, with a fondness for the past
The momentum of ‘Catharsis’ catalyzed the concept of Nesi’s next show, ‘Constructs’, which heavily focused on the lenses of the past, present, and future. Nesi continued to place emphasis on raw, crude materials but this time, explored how these materials decay or evolve through time.
The impactful pieces are at once minimal and bold, structural yet warped. As a whole, the show brings forth a commentary on the 21st century contemporary need to have the next, best, and brightest new object. ‘Constructs’ highlights beauty in natural decay while highlighting the importance of heritage and legacy, encouraging a shift from global consumerism and materialism.
“I wanted to convey that, in order to move forward into the future, you need to recognize the past, which inevitably places you in the present and then you can calculate the way you want to move forward,” he said.
As time remains a consistent theme throughout his work, both ‘Catharsis’ and ‘Constructs’ are exhibitions in which Nesi examines his evolution as an artist and as an individual. ‘Catharsis’ “was that f*** you in terms of where I'm from”, identifying the dichotomy between rich and poor, whereas ‘Constructs’ presents his vision of the future—one that respects the past.
Mexico City and Taking Risks In Line
Moving to Mexico City from New York, Nesi found a new sense of self and identified a new purpose to his art by immersing himself in the local community, enabling him to connect deeper with families throughout varying neighborhoods. It was through this process that Nesi felt his work was more than an examination of social structures, it grew into an appreciation for the environment and for self-expression.
“I put s*** together, but it's really having the privilege to be with these people is really how the wheels turn and get me to the next stop and allow me to be in a position to develop things that mean something.”
Developing art with tangible meaning becomes amplified through taking risks in life and Nesi is no stranger to risk-taking. From squatting in a Bushwick studio to dropping everything to follow his art to Mexico City, Nesi believes that his immersive approach to his work is what emphasizes the impact of the creations.
Through his practice of collaborating with communities of local artists and vendors, and leaving his known surroundings, Nesi found inspiration through uncharted landscapes. “It wasn't until I came here where I was working in the hood and being with these people on a day-to-day basis where I really saw that and I absorbed it and I was lucky enough.”
In 2024, Nesi debuts a new sculpture at Zona Maco - the preeminent art festival in CDMX. His piece, ‘CONSTRUCT 0’ will be on view at the distinguished gallery, Galerie Furiosa.
The piece underscores the significance of paying homage to history and believing in the inherent beauty encapsulated within the passage of time. ‘CONSTRUCT 0’ builds on Nesi’s narratives on the value of our relationship to the heritage around us—juxtaposing 70-year-old doors found in a junkyard in Mexico City with a modern, polished steel frame.
“The deliberate use of materials such as rust and decay in tandem with polished steel serves as a commentary on society's perpetual quest for novelty and our collective responsibility to recognize the profound impact of our heritage,” he explains.
In continuing to explore how beauty appears in the old as much as in the new, Nesi plans to look beyond the Americas and showcase future works throughout Europe. As a sculptor with modernist views on art-making, and an innate ability to question how materials offer form, function, and meaning, Nesi offers rarified commentary on communities and cultures across the world