Organised by the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds.
16 March – 26 May 2019
We are delighted to bring to the Fruitmarket Gallery the first solo institutional exhibition of the work of Senga Nengudi outside the United States. It includes work from 1969 to the present, with recreations of work not seen since the 1970s and a major new installation.
Born in Chicago in 1943, Senga Nengudi has been a trailblazer in sculpture for fifty years. A vital figure in the African American avant-garde scenes of Los Angeles and New York in the 1960s and 1970s, her work is characterised by a persistently radical experimentation with material and form.
The exhibition offers the chance to see significant examples from Nengudi’s best known body of work, the R.S.V.P. series, in which nylon tights are stretched, knotted, filled with sand and mounted between the walls and the floor in powerful, yet humble, figurations of the triumphs and traumas of the human body. It also includes several Untitled (Water Composition)sculptures from the late 1960s /1970s. Undermining the static and industrial tendencies of Minimalist sculpture, these abstract water sculptures hang and flop with the weight of a body, mimicking flesh while responding to the viewer’s touch.
Much of Nengudi’s work has been informed by her long-standing interest in spiritual rituals and performance across cultures. The exhibition includes documentary photographs and film of performances from the 1970s, and a new Sandmininginstallation which was made specially for the exhibition, which is shown alongside elements from the Wet Night – Early Dawn – Scat Chant – Pilgrim’s Song series from the 1990s, the works together exploring the artist’s long-standing interest in the commonalities of different belief systems and pilgrimage.
Offering an expansive overview of Nengudi’s practice and shedding light on the work of a figure fundamental to Postminimalism, this exhibition asserts Nengudi’s vital position within a generation of artists who redefined the possibilities of sculpture and representations of race and gender while drawing upon a tradition of abstraction.