Breaking through into uncharted territory with Nosego at Arch Enemy

Philadelphia’s very own Nosego (Yis Goodwin) is back in town with “Invisible Village,” his first solo Philly show in nearly two years, currently on display at Arch Enemy Arts. In an exhibit that has been in the planning stages for most of a year, Nosego unveils a more recent body of his signature vibrant paintings bristling with surreal settings, cartoon appendages, zoological portraits, and other more abstract fare. It is also worth noting that this multimedia conjurer has strayed even further afield this time, mixing a number of sculptures in along with his instantly recognizable paintings.

Nosego, “Ages.”

The concept for the show is based on the idea of ‘judging a book by its cover’ and how notions evolve as we become more in-tune with our world and those around us. Nosego’s images are typically well-geared for such a process of self-exploration, seeing that they stem from a sort of psychedelic inner space; they travel through the lens of the artist’s personality and experience, emerging on the other side as distorted, reimagined slivers of life.

Nosego, "Intervener."

Nosego, “Intervener.”

In the diamond-oriented square painting “Intervener,” we watch as a yellow and red patterned hand lifts a (relatively) tiny ship out of the choppy sea using some type of stringy, cat’s cradle-like device. The hands – one yet underwater – seem to belong to the black-clad figure looming large over the entire scene. Instead of a human face peering out from this cloak, however, we are confronted by an enormous barn owl. Popularly depicted as wise creatures, the infinity glyph below the owl’s beak seems to reinforce this notion of mystical power. Seemingly an impartial observer, the supernatural being decides to step in and rescue the ship, staring curiously at the little vessel as a massive whale shark swims by below, ignorant and unaffected.

While they undoubtedly emerge from Nosego’s singular style, “Intervener” and other paintings here do seem to differ from past work in terms of their format. Many of the paintings here have layered backgrounds and narrative strands weaved around their characters, as opposed to earlier pieces where figures float in the ether more than in any time or place. If this show is about an evolution of ideas, then the artworks indicate either an origin or an effect of this theme within Nosego’s practice.

Nosego mural on the back wall.

Nosego mural on the back wall.

Not one to shy away from his beginnings, Nosego does seem unable to help himself when it comes to including a couple of floor-to-ceiling murals in his show, but he looks forward as well. Although they are small, the sculptures here are yet another expansion of Nosego’s vision. “Reach Through” is particularly entertaining, depicting a teal, polka-dotted hand fumbling its way through the gallery wall, with a tussle of broken, primary-colored splinters falling in its wake. Each day we learn something different, and everything new that we encounter presents us with fresh opportunities. Nosego’s breaking through to the other side represents a desire to not only go with the flow, but push through the barriers around him altogether.

Nosego, "Reaching Through."

Nosego, “Reaching Through.”

It’s easy to say that Nosego’s art is unique, but as we find in “Invisible Village,” there is also something positively universal about it too. By continuing to expand and experiment with his popular creations, Nosego encourages us to challenge ourselves and our deeply held notions at the same time. The show will be on view through March 1.

Arch Enemy Arts is located at 109 + 111 Arch St., Philadelphia; 215-717-7774;