Back to Go Forward


Back to Go Forward

Nathan Stromberg at the Thompson Gallery at the Cambridge School of Weston in Weston, Massachusetts, USA, 7 September-9 November 2018

Nathan Stromberg’s “Back To Go Forward” is the first of three exhibitions in the Circulus Retro exhibition series, presenting a selection of thirty-seven collages and two paintings that shed light on Stromberg’s fascination with the past and the imagery of yesteryear.

In the spring of 2012, Stromberg made a leap of the imagination and drastically changed the way he approached making art. Stromberg exchanged painting with paint for an experimental process of painting with paper. The idea came to him after discovering an unexpected treasure-trove, lodged inside the walls of his house. While renovating the attic of his home, the Saint Paul, Minnesota-based artist “discovered that it was filled with perfectly preserved reams of newspapers from 1941, sewn together as insulation.” Despite being a dedicated naturalist, Stromberg took one look at the yellowed ephemera and knew he “wanted to use the newspaper in his paintings somehow.” Pushing his idea further, Stromberg wrote in an artist statement, “In a direct nod to Pop Art painter Jasper Johns, I had the thought to incorporate clippings of the newspaper into the background of my paintings as a texture.” Feeling successful with and inspired by his first collage made with the 1941 archive, Stromberg put his paints on the shelf, took out his X-Acto knife and acrylic medium, and henceforth has worked exclusively with paper in lieu of paint.

Stromberg works with areas of colour gleaned from vintage ads and photographs. He pirates shapes needed to depict every aspect of the forms and objects he observes. To enhance the idea and the feeling for each of his still-life objects, Stromberg limits himself to the local colour of magazines and books printed in the same era as the manufactured object. In turn, Stromberg’s collages present his audiences with an unexpected reunion of colour and form. Over the last 6 years, Stromberg has created more than 100 collages of period objects that capture not only a likeness of objects, but also the “colour of their time.”

Stromberg wonders, “What value do the objects of mass consumerism hold over the years?” What is the value of an object made by hand in a society flooded by virtual realities? How do we interact with objects today as compared to 5, 10, 25, 50 years ago? In his artist’s statement about the paintings on display, Stromberg notes that “attitudes about men and women have changed since I first made these paintings.” “How we understand the past and relate to it,” Stromberg points out, “tells us a lot about the ways we engage with the present and look forward to the future.”

(Text adapted from the gallery’s press materials)


The Thompson Gallery
at The Cambridge School of Weston
45 Georgian Road
Weston, Massachusetts 02493 USA
(781) 398-8316

Monday to Friday: 8:30AM to 4:30PM (school calendar applies)
by appointment: please send an email.


Primary Tricycle
by Nathan Stromberg
vintage magazine collage
Courtesy of the artist