New Work by Nina Pops


Nina Pops sent me, this week, several photos of new work. The geometric forms are still evident, various and complicated and as simple as forms in the context of other forms can be. New is the cutout. Nina has put knife to paper, augmenting and subtracting from what she has done with pencils and paper.

“I want to move beyond the surface,” she wrote. “Emptiness. The void. Cutout. But still with the forms. The odyssey continues.”

These new works cast shadows. Interior shadows. They feature lines without color. The pressure of a sharp blade competes with the rasp of a sharp pencil. The paper takes on color and responds with texture to the pencil. It falls away under the knife.

In the work above, a work of mostly horizontal lines—thin lines except for the two thick offset conjoined rectangles to the upper right and the rather thick cutout to the top left—the cutouts work like the drawn lines, casting shadows with an intermediary hue beyond or between the black and grey-blue colors of the pencil. The thick cutout T that trails off to the bottom right is buttressed by the only two vertical pencil lines, each footed for support. Presence is not presence without absence. There is no absence without presence.

The cutouts are surprising for a viewer expecting new variations of the two-dimensional sort.

And yet they are not too surprising. The departure from the surface is slight, intimate, more a hint than an proclamation.


In this second work, the cutout right angle nestles into the right-angle black bedstead.

Or the solid black line that spans the paper’s width rises vertically to block a similar but potentially severing sweep of the knife.

Or the cutout softens the phallic assertion of the black line.

The new, third dimension doesn’t raise the question of “or.” It asks, rather, the question of “and.”

The paper. The pencil. And the knife.

It’s a ménages à trois more dangerous than the familiar pas de deux, and in its new delicacy (the cut paper!) it is powerful.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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3 Responses to New Work by Nina Pops

  1. Mike Roloff says:

    I’m sorry,but these Nina Pops Mondrianish works don’t cut it with this boy, maube if there had been no Mondrian and his school, but that was appr, 100 years ago!


    • Scott Abbott says:

      You make two points here.
      The first relates to taste—”don’t cut it with this boy.”
      . . . . . There’s no need for you to like these works.
      The second one is an argument about quality.
      . . . . . As I sat in my cozy study with snow falling outside and took my pleasure in looking closely and repeatedly and working through various interpretations of what had been wrought by paper and knife and pencil, I obviously let my critical guard down. As you say, and as I should have known had I been thinking better, Mondrian explored all the possible various of geometric form and color and anyone who continues that exploration is necessarily an epigone.


      • Mike Roloff says:

        No, her work is certainly attractive and interesting and I suspect I might even like it better if I could see the original and especially if I’d never seen Mondrian’s work and his school, but I did and even translated some essays on the aesthetics of that stuff, in the early 60s,for George Braziller, so these associations are inevitable,no matter that I realize that she is working in a tradition that I thought had died out. and I guess she is probably aware of the tradition, and so it is a choice to work like that, and she may feel she has no other choice, I suppose I could ask her, She and I are f.b, friends! Will send you an idea I have shortly before heading off to the gym, high fog has eliminated the sun for the time being that was so great the past few very cold days,


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