After the private viewing this evening in London, Nihilistic Optimistic, a sculptural illustration of oppositional and complementary forces by Tim Noble & Sue Webster – their first major solo exhibition in London since 2006 – will open to the public on October 10th at Blain Southern Gallery in London’s Hanover Square. Six large-scale sculptures constructed from wood scraps and other discarded materials, “fracturing things up – splintering things. So the mind has to wander in a different way…” continues the artists’ “investigation of self-portraiture.”
Noble and Webster call their works “street compositions,” intentionally unfinished pieces, which implement scattered debris, sawdust, wood shavings and tools. As artists, the two are interesting in “deconstructing the relationship between materiality and form,” and the gallery space itself, which is connected to the studio and the streets, enhances this theme of work-in-progress.
Noble and Webster have been working together since 1986, when they met as Fine Art students at Nottingham Trent University. They entered the London art world a few years later when Noble began an MA in sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Their work was included in ‘Statuephilia – Contemporary Sculptors’ at the British Museum, London, 2008-2009 and in ‘Apocalypse – Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art’ at the Royal Academy London, 2000, and several works are part of public collections internationally, including the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. In 2007 they received the Arken Prize for artistic achievement.
Especially important in this new installation as well as in their past works is Noble & Webster’s use of light and shadow in the space, as the shadows behind the works create portraits on the wall. In only one work, My Beautiful Mistake, there is no light source at all, symbolizing the weakness and “imminent destruction” of materials alone, without context and environment.
The duo’s work over the years has been divided into two parts: “Shadow Works” and “Light Works,” although Webster says that they are not completely separate, but rather “two sides to the work; the shiny side and the dark side. That kind of reflects the two personalities within us.”
Nihilistic Optimistic is accompanied by a catalogue, with contributions by Gustav Metzger, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Jon Savage, as well as a limited edition artwork in the form of a 10-inch record, which Noble and Webster created in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory. The show will open October 10th and run through November 24th, 2012.
Exhibition Page [Blain Southern]
The Guardian [Tim Noble, Sue Webster: ‘We suffered like caged animals. We saved the art’]
Video: The Guardian [Tim Noble & Sue Webster: how we made Nihilistic Optimistic]
Artists’ website: [Tim Noble and Sue Webster]