Senga Nengudi – Populated Air: Seated as on Thrones, the Chorus of Before, Calls Down to Us – Be Careful, Mind Your Way, This Way, This Way (Works)
Senga Nengudi – Populated Air: Seated as on Thrones, the Chorus of Before, Calls Down to Us – Be Careful, Mind Your Way, This Way, This Way Press Release
In her new installation, the artist’s second solo exhibition with Thomas Erben Gallery, Senga Nengudi employs more abundantly materials of the domestic domain. In their immediate availability they function as conceptual vehicles for an ancestral salute to those who came before, an acknowledgement of the continuum with those present and yet to be born.
A legendary figure of the most provocative group of African-American avant-garde artists who began working in the ‘70s (including David Hammons and Adrian Piper), her new work bursts with a level of creativity and formal skill which, combined with her quirky iconography and conceptual clarity, place her as a significant American artist. Initially contextualized through the Southern California funk movement in its use of recycled objects and assemblages as well as West Coast performance practices, Nengudi’s work is made distinct by her minimalist formalist sensibility and relation to her African-American experience. African, Afro-Hispanic and Asian philosophies are influences. African traditions of ceremonial space are used as concepts for sculptural space and African rituals as models for performance.
Selected for their formal and sculptural as well as potentially metaphoric qualities, each element of Nengudi’s works remains recognizable, yet is subject to a multiplication of its possible readings through unexpected juxtapositions and formal uses. Built of things that help us to function in our mass produced secular culture, Senga Nengudi’s new installation acknowledges those who have come before, enabling us in the present to reconnect, recharge, and move forward.
OA (Through Here), an installation exhibited last year in NowHere at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark, is concurrently on view at Rush Arts as part of Interior Life, a group show curated by Donald Odita (Sept. 13 – Oct. 12, 526 West 26th Street, phone 212-691-9552). Nengudi’s work will also be included in Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object, a major survey exhibition curated by Paul Schimmel at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (Feb. – May ’98). It is now scheduled to travel to the MAC – Barcelona, the MAK – Vienna, the MOCA – Tokyo, and the National Museum of Art – Osaka. The Fall ’97 issue of NKA – Journal of Contemporary Art will contain a 4-page article that will further illuminate the artist’s achievements.