Artist: Senga Nengudi
Venue: Oakville Galleries, Oakville
Exhibition Title: Hourglass
Date: February 26 – April 10, 2021
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Oakville Galleries, Oakville. Photos by Laura Findlay.
Oakville Galleries is delighted to present Senga Nengudi: Hourglass. Since the 1960s, the Colorado-based artist has developed a ground-breaking, expansive practice that brings together sculpture, performance, and dance. For this, her first exhibition in Canada, Oakville Galleries will present a selection of recent and older works that foreground her innovative use of natural and found materials, such as pantyhose, sand, water, and plastic.
Included in the exhibition will be work from her series R.S.V.P., in which flesh-coloured nylon stockings have been stretched, twisted, pulled, and weighed down with sand in their feet. Accompanying photographs show how Nengudi has invited interaction with these limb-like sculptural installations in often-collaborative performances that draw on a wide set of references, from her own African, African American heritage to Japanese Noh theatre and the choreography of Pina Bausch. They also document her early activities with Studio Z, a radical group of Los Angeles-based artists, who often staged artworks in public space.
Nengudi’s interest in the transformative, shape-shifting qualities of materials such as nylon and sand can also be seen in her malleable and sensuous Water Compositions from the 1960s, in which she filled vinyl plastic with coloured water. The exhibition includes examples from this early series, which were remade in 2018, and which gain new meaning seen here against the backdrop of Lake Ontario.
Nengudi has written: ‘What is in a name? I propose plenty. That is why I have a different name for each medium I use. In Black culture naming has great significance. We have been “called out of our names” so much that controlling that aspect of our lives with a B’rer Rabbit sensibility is important.’ The writings of Lily Bea Moor—one of Nengudi’s personas—will also be featured in the exhibition in written and video form.
Through her rule-breaking, playful, and eclectic reflections on the body, spirituality, materials, and movement, Nengudi has made an undeniably important contribution to the history of contemporary art, and continues to have a resonant and vital voice that speaks to the key issues of our times.
Senga Nengudi was born in 1943 in Chicago. She lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Nengudi has been featured in many significant exhibitions, including Vive Arte Vive, curated by Christine Macel, at the 57th Venice Biennale; Improvisational Gestures, a three year-long traveling retrospective of the artist’s work which was organized in 2015 by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, and traveled to the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; the DePaul Art Museum, Chicago; and the USC Fisher Museum, Los Angeles, among others. Nengudi’s work was also included in the 54th Carnegie International, at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh in 2004-2005. In 2017, the solo exhibition Head Back and High: Senga Nengudi, Performance Objects (1976-2015) opened at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and traveled to Art + Practice, Los Angeles. The group exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 opened at the Brooklyn Museum in 2017, and traveled to the Albright Knox, Buffalo; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, opened the group exhibition West by Midwest, curated by Charlotte Ickes, in the fall of 2018, while in September of 2019 a retrospective of Nengudi’s career, Topologies, opened at Lenbachhaus, Munich, and travelled in 2020 to the Museu de Arte de São Paulo.
Nengudi’s work is in the permanent collections of many major museums worldwide, including: The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Hammer Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and Jerusalem Museum of Art, Jerusalem.