ARTIST ROOMS artist essay
Since the mid 1960s Bruce Nauman has been one of the most highly respected and influential figures in contemporary art. He is noted for his exploratory way of working and his search for self-knowledge, stemming in part from his early university studies in mathematics and physics. His work combines bodily consciousness, physical and mental activity, linguistic manipulation and humour and focuses on perception, spatial relationships, human psychology and issues of life and death.
Early in his career Nauman abandoned painting in favour of sculpture, performance, installation, film, video, photography and neon, amongst other activities. His restless intellect drives a continual experimentation and re-invention in his artistic practice. This in turn forces the viewer to explore their own presence and self-awareness when confronting his work which in all its manifestations has a powerful physical quality.
The works in ARTIST ROOMS span nearly 30 years and include a wide range of Nauman’s work in different media. A sculptural installation Enforced Perspective and a suspended hand sculpture show the artist exploring the concepts of traditional sculptural practices in the context of minimalism and performance. The unique early neon La Brea/Art Tips/Rat Spit/Tar Pits creates an anagrammatic play on the place name La Brea Tar Pits, a prehistoric site excavated in Los Angeles, and demonstrates Nauman’s interest in spatial and linguistic ambiguity. Changing Light Corridor with Rooms is one of many corridor works the artist has made since the 1970s in which he explores psychological and physical interaction.
Moving image and sound have also been major components in Nauman’s practice and three video works dating between 1986 and 1999 express the artist’s important position within the history of time-based media practices.