Alexandra Nechita On The Power of Her Art

“It’s the truest side of me.” The former "Petite Picasso" fuses themes of motherhood and belonging into her work on view at Off the Wall Gallery in Houston.

By Amarie Gipson March 9, 2022

Alexandra Nechita's solo exhibition is on view through March 12, at Off the Wall Gallery in Houston. 

Right in time for Women’s History Month, Alexandra Nechita returns to Houston. The Romanian-born artist and mother of two was a child prodigy at the tender age of 6. At 36, the once “Petite Picasso” has made a global imprint with her cubist compositions and sculptures. Her solo exhibition, Setting the Stage, is on view now at Off the Wall Gallery on Westheimer Road through this weekend. 

In the late 1980s, Nechita and her family fled Communist rule in Romania to settle in Los Angeles, where her parents worked long hours to provide a stable life. It was in the care of her grandmother, whose encouragement allowed her to express her emotions through art, that the artist developed a deep connection to painting. 

“I didn’t speak English until I got to kindergarten, so I had feelings of isolation about my cultural differences,” Nechita tells Houstonia over the phone from L.A. “But I found really great comfort in making things and getting my feelings out on paper.”

While she was growing up, the tiny West Coast apartment where Nechita and her family lived overflowed with a sea of canvases. Her parents would place the furniture in the center of the living room to make way for her wall paintings. Nechita describes her younger self as “weird and precocious,” always wanting to set herself apart from others. 

Her work has a distinctly feminine approach to the European modernist art style, cubism. (Think Picasso, but with a much warmer, brighter palette.) Throughout her career, she’s maintained a deep obsession with color and strives to inspire conversations that lead to sustained change, hope and peace in the world.

“I’ve always felt a level of responsibility in my work,” she says. “Whether my audience was my third-grade class or the readers of Vanity Fair, I understood what it meant to have people’s ears and eyes on you, and that was an honor and something to take very seriously.”

Nechita in her Los Angeles studio in front of Set the Stage, 2021. 

Nechita’s exhibition at Houston’s Off the Wall Gallery takes its title from a painting-turned-public art piece that is located at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, a highly trafficked entertainment center in L.A. Both the signature painting and its expanded mural form depict an abstracted, multilayered scene: A mother and child embrace, nearby a womanly figure, stretches out of a window holding a dove in the center of the composition, a blue hand emerges holding a mirror that reflects the figure’s face. This image, like many of Nechita’s other works, foregrounds themes of community, freedom and self-reflection. 

Three decades since her days as a young and emerging artist, Nechita has welcomed motherhood into her daily routine. Although she’s no longer able to spend her days and nights in the studio working spontaneously, she still manages to dedicate a few days a week to focus on new work. 

“There’s something about being a creative who now has to plan out these moments. It’s important to me,” she says. “I am a painter and artist first; it’s the truest and most authentic side of me. I want to always honor that.”

Setting the Stage brings viewers into the past three years of Nechita’s life. 

“I’m excited to show this work because I think it does something different,” she says. “It’s a great encapsulation of my own personal evolution and the growth I’ve experienced in the last several years…. This is my way of saying something to people, to teach and find ways to become better.” 

Setting the Stage is on view at Off the Wall Gallery through March 12. For more information on gallery hours, visit here

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