Fergus McCaffrey is pleased to present works by Hitoshi Nomura and Dennis Oppenheim
at this year’s Independent. Themes of time, boundaries, transformation, changing physical
condition, and making tangible the intangible are all themes central to the works of both
The Japanese artist Hitoshi Nomura (born 1945) remains virtually unknown in the United States, yet his work represents a significant moment in the rich international dialogue of art in the post-minimalist period. Nomura has explored elements of man and of matter through photography, film, sculpture, and performance. Since he began his career in 1968, Nomura’s work has defied easy categorization, as he has continued to push the accepted boundaries of art, most recently extending his practice into the realms of science and astronomy.
In Dry Ice (1969) Nomura investigates the dematerialization of a large stack of dry-ice blocks, annotating the passage of time as the structural mass diminishes. Nomura has continued to explore the implications of these early works in sculptures such as Time Arrow: Oxygen –183° C (1993), which employs liquid oxygen, a gas that can only stay in liquid form at –183 degrees centigrade.
In the early 1970s, Nomura’s sculptural and conceptual art practice began to include pioneering work in film, such as Turning the Arm with a Movie Camera: Person, Landscape (1972), a two channel film that records the artist rotating his arm while filming, as well as what happens to be recorded in the arc of that movement. In similar works, frequently made over extremely long periods of time, Nomura recorded his everyday activities and movements and his material/sculptural concerns took a back seat to records of place, orchestrated repetition of actions, and exercises in which chance is given free rein. Retrospectives of Hitoshi Nomura’s work have taken place at the National Museum of Modern Art, Osaka (1987); Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki (2000); Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota (2001); and most recently at the National Art Center, Tokyo (2009). His work will be included in For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968–1979 opening at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on March 7. Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011) was a pioneer of Land Art, Body Art and Conceptual Art, Video Art, Process Art and Public Art. In the late 1960s, like his contemporaries Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, and Lawrence Weiner, Oppenheim made temporary outdoor sculptures that would become known as Land Art. Seminal works from this period include: Annual Rings (1968), for which he recreated in large format the patterns of a tree’s growth by shoveling pathways in the snow over the frozen waterway dividing Canada and the US. Another defining work of the period is Reading Position for Second Degree Burn (1970), in which the artist's body becomes a surface that registers the increasing visible color red over the course of a two-hour exposure, creating a kind of bodily photogram. Few artists have worked in a wider range of mediums, and his materials have included mechanical and industrial elements, fireworks, everyday objects, natural materials (such as earth, snow, wheat), and his own or another's body.
Oppenheim earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and an M.F.A. from Stanford, after which he moved to New York, in 1968. He had his first solo exhibition in New York that year at the John Gibson Gallery. Oppenheim’s work has been the subject of many surveys and retrospectives in the United States and in Europe, including a 1991 exhibition at P.S. 1. He is represented in museum collections around the world.