Nelson Da Costa was born in in Kwanza, Norte Angola into a family of farmers. In 1984, pushed to leave by Angola’s socio-political situation, he received a scholarship to finish high school in Isla de la Juventud, Cuba.
He continued his studies in the province of Pinar del Rio, first training to be an elementary school teacher, and then a special education teacher with a focus in art therapy. In 2002, Nelson immigrated to the United States and received an MFA from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of fine Arts in Boston. He now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and is represented by Gallery NAGA in Boston.
Nelson Da Costa’s painting draws on his boyhood in Angola, his training as an artist in Cuba, and his involvement with contemporary art in America. He has developed an approach to composition in which his imagery and symbology are united in one overall flat black-silhouetted form, through the openings of which a second color shines.
The work can be read as a series of linked narratives and observations about Da Costa’s life – his childhood, the murder of his family in Angola’s civil war, and his use of art making as a gateway to the future .
“I have a story to tell,” Da Costa says. “I have so much to say about the experiences I have been through. I use art to communicate about war and destruction, about sadness and poverty, about death and where people are going when they die.”