- Hauser & Wirth Gallery
Big, bold and brash, Nauman’s work is high impact, humorous, a bit crude and a bit gay. Coloured neon flashes bright to garishness, imprinting his sex messages on our retinas. It’s funny, but you don’t see many people laughing. Nauman likes puns in words and imagery, and plays around with binary duality, like an adolescent sniggering at hidden dirty meanings – Run From Fear/ Fun From Rear. In Sex and Death/Double “69”, simplified neon men are in turn illuminated as they fit into each other, as it were.
More chilling is Carousel, a vast work dragging animals in a circle by the neck. It’s hilarious in a way that it makes you laugh when you know you shouldn’t.
Fun and exciting is squeezing yourself into a diminishing passage to a glowing room. This time, the joke is on us, the audience, as we are amazed yet caught out by what we find. We are caught in a psychological state induced by the artist.
The logic of these pieces is undeniable. They are strong clear ideas, conceived and made with audacity. The exhibition covers works from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that are so influential they could have been made today.
The real mindfuck is the dense essay introducing the exhibition on Hauser and Wirth’s website. Nauman’s work is the headline act, and he leaves others to iterate the waves and after effects of nuance and meaning that occur when you see them.