Richard Nonas was born in Brooklyn in 1936 and now lives in Manhattan. He has made and shown his sculpture worldwide for the past 40 years. Nonas was trained as an anthropologist and lived and worked with Native Americans in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico and Arizona, as well as in both James Bay and the Yukon Territory in northern Canada. Writing about his years as an anthropologist, Nonas says that he slowly came to believe that language, words, were too specific to directly convey the shifting and ambiguous complexity, the immediate all-at-once doubleness, of the reality he was trying to describe. Physical objects —spatial things— he thought could perhaps be made to capture and hold that doubleness and even communicate it all at once; could be made to function like the bounded physical places imbued with over-arching human emotion he had experienced in the southern desert, the northern forest —and the streets of New York.
Nonas became a maker of those object-made places; those ambiguous spatial presences built from simple and familiar elements. His work continues to combine a radical literalism with the shifting edge of not quite paradox. The great Italian collector Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo wrote in his book of memoirs: ...Nonas is the most radical of the minimalist artists that I collected in the 70s'. He has transformed his anthropological search for the primordial nature of human beings into his sculptures. He is a sculptor of complexity in simplicity' of pervasive emotion in rough abstract physical form.
Nonas speaks of the actual objects he builds as "tools to make charged places happen." His longtime Tribeca studio, filled with old works and the steel, stone and wood implements he uses to make them, is itself such a place. The studio is his tool, but it is also his home. And that circularity (tool-using-as-tool-making and place-making-as-place-using; the transformation of one disjunctive set into the other) is the root of his work. The charged places that result are his art.
For his solo show at James Fuentes, Richard Nonas has created several new works to exhibit along with selected preexisting works from his studio. At the center of the exhibition will be a new work entitled "Long Division" comprised of several steel floor pieces and one steel wall piece directly behind it. Works made from pine, oak and cherry wood will be positioned on the wall surrounding "Long Divison." Other floor sculptures will be included, pairing new and older works.
Richard Nonas has exhibited his sculpture nationally and internationally and has shown in Museums and Galleries worldwide. Important early exhibitions include; 112 Green Street (Inaugural Exhibition 1970), "Rooms" curated by Alanna Heiss at P.S. 1 (1976), and Documenta 6 (1977). Public Collections include; MoMA, New York, Kunstmuseum, Zurich, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Panza Collection, Milan, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, More recently Nonas held a retrospective at The Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint Etienne, France (2010) and currently has a solo exhibition at the MAMCO, Geneva.
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