Saatchi Yates

Noku / Nauman

19th June - 16th August

Saatchi Yates presents a two person exhibition featuring works by radical contemporary artist Nokukha-nya Langa alongside leading American conceptual master Bruce Nauman. Opening on Wednesday 19th June, the show draws on the connection between both artists’ use of alternative methodologies creating a common language that uses absurdist text, puns, finding meaning in the banal. The exhibition will show-case a new body of work by Langa centred around her ‘Black Paintings’. These will be presented along-side a survey of Nauman’s groundbreaking black and white films.

Nokukhanya Langa’s Post-Minimalist aesthetic is echoed in the repetitive, tasklike exercises of Nauman’s conceptual works. Unlearning the rigidity of her training in traditional oil painting, she plays with abstract motifs; lines, dots, scribbles and various other mark making techniques are paired with phrases, arrows and signs which lead the viewer nowhere. Langa’s sculptural canvases comment on contemporary post-internet culture, highlighting themes of futility, alienation, and online identity.

Both artists have a shared interest in the relationship between image and language. Whilst living in California, Nauman began working in film as early as 1965. Nauman's films often feature simple, repeti-tive actions that highlight the tension between the artist's physical endurance and the mundane nature of the tasks. From creating conceptual work and post-minimalist work, with emphasis on meaning over aesthetics, Nauman often uses irony and wordplay with persistent themes and ideas that provoke the viewer’s participation, to raise issues about estrangement and reality. Language in Nauman's art serves as a conduit for communication, but also as a medium for questioning the nature of language itself, its ability to convey truth, and its limitations. Similarly, Langa employs dark humour in her text to challenge power structures that lie within us, seen in examples, ‘dreams go Thru 2 gates’ and ‘you wait for something you hold your breath’. The absurdity of her text coupled with the spiral symbol creates a dialogue with the ideas explored by Nauman and demonstrates how Nauman’s creative output has had a profound impact on a younger generation of artists.