For the first time there was a solo exhibition of work by Ron Nagle (San Francisco, 1939) in the Netherlands. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is featuring his recent works in ‘Chewing Gum Monuments’ (gallery 52). Nagle’s oeuvre is made up of ceramic shapes and sculptures no more than ten to fifteen centimetres tall—striking, unorthodox compositions of strange shapes, textures and intense colours.
Nagle takes his inspiration from late sixteenth-century Momoyama ceramics from Japan, drawing and painting, and equally from the American automobile culture with eye-catching colours and gleaming lacquers. His works reference the American West Coast where the artist grew up and where he still lives and works. At the Venice Biennale in 2013 he was widely praised for his sculptures, which were part of Massimiliano Giorni’s ‘Il Palazzo Enciclopedico’ exhibition.
Chewing Gum Monuments
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen showed the works in an installation where the sculptures could be seen at eye level. Although the brightly-coloured sculptures are tiny, viewers had no difficulty losing themselves in the surreal qualities of the landscapes. Ingenious titles like ‘Frisky Kanisky’, ‘Handlin' Bambi’ and ‘Moniker Lewinsky’ contributed to the experience. Alongside the sculptures, the exhibition featured ten sketches on paper. The ideas for these drawings came about while Nagle watched old films starring the Chinese detective Charlie Chan over and over again.
Into the groove
Nagle has also been working as a singer/songwriter and music producer since the 1960s. He played in various bands, worked with musicians from Jefferson Airplane and The Charlatans and released his solo album ‘Bad Rice’ in 1972. This album, regarded as an absolute 1970s cult classic to this day, was recently re-released. Nagle also worked in Hollywood and created the sound effects for ‘The Exorcist’. This film won an Oscar for them and was voted the best horror film of all time. Nagle has written songs for major stars like Barbra Streisand and Arnold Schwarzenegger and the legendary band The Tubes.