Exploring the relationship between inner-city angst and isolation, Yasmina Alexandra Nysten’s latest solo-exhibition at New York City’s Tornadothings Gallery brings together a series of drawings and paintings that reveal the underlying tension and restlessness befitting contemporary urban life.

In one painting, a darkened hallway, in the foreground a woman leaning against a wooden wall, behind her a man slouching and sitting desperately on the floor, almost Kafka-esque. In another, a couple awash in matching red outfits, mourning the death of a bird collapsed on the pavement. Cumulatively, splashes of yellow, vibrant hues of blue, dark browns and somber tones create a distinctively psychotropic energy to the paintings, which together explore what the artist calls “atmospheres of estrangement.”

Exhibition view of (Live) @ THE CRYING ROOM
Exhibition view of (Live) @ THE CRYING ROOM

The exhibition titled (Live) @ THE CRYING ROOM, takes inspiration from moments of isolation and panic, but together reveal a delightfully eccentric body of work that combines not only painting, but also illustration and animation.

Like the majority of works on display, the accruing visions create a semblance of continuity, but together reveal a sum greater than its individual parts.

Framed monochrome illustrations—consisting mostly of human figures, distorted and otherworldly—reveal states of emotion and angst that give a sense of cohesion to the works on canvas.

“Isolation is a constant state of the artist. Though some can read the works as a bit morbid or dark, or even provocative, I see them as comical,” Nysten says.

Though born in Finland, Nysten was raised mostly in Lebanon, where she attended ALBA (Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts) in Beirut.

“Lebanon is where I initially formed my connection to art,” she says. “There, I felt destined to do something in the arts. It’s where I first came to understand the power of painting as a kind of magical realism.”

After obtaining her BFA in Lebanon, she relocated to New York where she obtained an MFA in Digital Arts from Pratt Institute Brooklyn, in 2013.

Yasmina Nysten at (Live) @ THE CRYING ROOM exhibition

Since recreating to NYC, Nysten has also recently started working with collective called MARS (short for The Mutual Admiration Society), a group of interdisciplinary artists, many of them with a background in music.

“I enjoy experimenting and research,” she says. “Not only with other mediums, but also, critically, by surrounding myself with interesting, creative people. This is part of what makes New York so interesting, it’s full of overlapping cultural narratives that I find endlessly fascinating.”

Yasmina Nysten at (Live) @ THE CRYING ROOM exhibition
Yasmina Nysten at (Live) @ THE CRYING ROOM exhibition

Referencing her last 10 years in New York, “I feel like the works on display at Tornadothings are a reflection of my immediate environment,” she says. “They reflect my lived experiences, the pulse of life in New York City, where life can be totally unpredictable, difficult, comical and morbid all at once.”

(Live) @ THE CRYING ROOM is on view until the end of July.