Navid Nuur

Selected Works

Untitled (ENCOUNTER)

ink from black felt-tip pen, canvas, water
150 x 200 cm

Economists like to say that you should torture statistics in a basement for as long as it takes them to tell the truth, and Nuur can be said to do something similar with the materials he uses. Telling examples of this inquisitive attitude, in which the artist attempts to penetrate the very physical essence of the material, can be found in text works like Untitled (ENCOUNTER), TREASURED TENSION, ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE (all from 2007). In these works, Nuur exposes and applies the simple principle that the specific colour of a felt-tip pen is built up out of a wide range of other colours. The hidden colours in the black felt-tip letters on the stretched linen are made visible by diluting them with water, or – to put it in Nuur's words – are 'unchained'. This way, the letters show their true, polychromatic nature, and are threatening and dramatic in their condition. It's in Nuur's nature to activate material objects (natural and synthetic) – to bring them to life, as it were – and he subsequently allows the traces of that process to become part of his artistic gesture.

Xander Karskens. Magic Water – On the instinctive logic of Navid Nuur. in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Onomatopee, 2010

Thresholder (as pillar IV)

floral foam blocks
dimensions variable

“The green floral foam block is just a medium between two timelines: on the one hand, 'the personal now/as physicality', on the other – 'the public past/as aesthetics'. What I mean is this: the floral foam block remembers your first touch. As soon as you touch the block, your hand is imprinted on it; there is no residue, no second chance. There is a very intimate relation of concomitance between me and the material preserving the emotion in the block. The brick-like shape of blocks suggests that wall-like objects would be the most natural outcome to work with and around. A wall is both a relation and a division between two or more spaces, so when I think of the final space, it is site-specific and custom-made for the chosen location. The object/wall is created live.“

Navid Nuur. When touch can recall itself in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Onomatopee, 2010


hand written text on Plexiglass lightbox, black metal framing, movement sensor
60 x 80 x 20 cm

"When words travel from inside me, making their way through to the world outside and acquiring their own reality and form via my body, they slip and become increasingly disconnected from my original thought. As they are moulded by the chosen language and tone of voice and -even more so- by my body language, they lose their original form and strength. My thought's first true intention is shattered. I failed... again. With this in mind, I started to just collect: I gathered the words and sentences that I thought of or came across in my daily life, words and sentences that reflected a part of me and my being. This way I did not have to pronounce them out loud and they would not get confused with or altered by my body and voice. I tried to find their own, personal bodies, shapes and volumes that reconnected and rearticulated their inner dimensions, which made them more subjective and complete. It is not about getting lost in translation, but about translating that which is lost."

Navid Nuur, When words find another body in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Onomatopee, 2010

Untitled (Let us meet inside you)

tap from artist's studio, water, bottles, labels, stamps, capper, crates
dimensions variable
Installation view Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht, The Netherlands

The actual physical interaction between the work and the viewer is an integral component of Untitled (Let us meet inside you). During the period of the exhibition, the soft drink bottles in the crates are filled with water coming out of a tap that has been moved from Nuur's studio to the exhibition space and consequently symbolises the artist himself. The bottles of water can subsequently be taken away and consumed by the visitor, resulting in a symbolic encounter. In this work, the artist plays with the concept of a performative presence/absence in his relationship with the viewer, who as a recipient takes on an active, theatrical role.

Xander Karskens. Magic Water – On the instinctive logic of Navid Nuur. in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Onomatopee, 2010

Tentacle Thought Nr. 5 (Hocus Focus)

custom lightbox, wire, neon tubes
dimensions variable
Installation view Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel

"I knew that when I exhibited somewhere where the fluorescent tubes would not have to serve as a source of light, I could transfrom them into luminescent bodies and arrange them in formation. Formations that would be created via a site-specific process and that would have to conceive on the fly, so that I would never know exactly what they would look like in reality. Later, I wanted to 'mobilise' these light formations outside their site-specific locations.“

Navid Nuur. When wires start to wander in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Onomatopee, 2010


mobile phone, baked modelling clay, activated by dialling mobile phone
dimensions variable

“The unfortunate thing about a painting is that the route towards the end result can be so meandering, and that sometimes it is impossible to discern those old hidden traces and emotions, due to the new layers that have been applied on top of them. (…) I discoverd that paint is really thin and weak, without any zest of its own whatsoever – as if you're applying to the canvas a diluted extract of an original source. That didn't suit me at all; I had to feel the paint. So I started to make the volume thicker and thicker and thicker, untill I finally arrived at Fimo and Play-Doh. This was the perfect material: it had the right physical density, I really connected to it and it had strong colour. It could also carry itself materially as a final form, so that I no longer needed to use a canvas. I took two pieces of Fimo – red and blue – and started kneading them together while uttering the names of the colours and physical actions involved, until I arrived at a result that felt right. After which I put the recording of the moment in question in this end result. This allows the viewer to hear the entire process, and releases a wide range of extra emotions – personal emotions – in the work. Up till now, I have only red and blue, as these two colours and their hues offer an intense experience and speak strongest to me emotionally.“

Navid Nuur. When red and blue start to rumble in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Onomatopee, 2010

Recaptured from the collective

one thought, time, ink, notepads, traced rooftop isolation plates
sculpture: 403 cm (H), 110 cm (max in diameter)
notepads: 85 frames, 30 x 25 cm each

“When we have an idea and want to record it on a piece of paper, a large part of it gets lost as we need first to be able to draw and to know how to use our body in order to reach this goal. An idea or a concept that we have in mind vanishes easily when it leaves our mind/body. What I do is to hold a black marker above a pile of small pieces of paper while I concentrate on this very precise idea that I wish to visualise. I don’t draw, I just let the idea shape in my mind and simultaneously the ink will spill through the pile of paper. After a while the ink stiffens and I can’t any longer keep the idea. I get tired of so much concentration (…) Then, using styrofoam, I cut enlarged shapes after the ones left on each paper (…) Once all the shapes are assembled on top of each others, appears a 3D structure which has its own identity, loaded with inner energy. A concept that we could touch, which is pure, while its content and meaning remains enigmatic.“

Navid Nuur in Navid Nuur – The Main Remain, Galerie Max Hetzler, 2014

Untitled, 2014

Vitamin D (oils, pills, powders) on canvas, bubinga wood
139 x 105 cm

Navid Nuur's work Untitled, 2014, a painting made from crushed vitamin D used as pigment, illustrates his deep interest in properties and potentials of different materials. Since a while Nuur experiments with vitamin D which is produced when skin comes into contact with ultraviolet light from the sun and thus forms an essential nutrient. The substance, usually an invisible compound, suddenly becomes visible on the white coloured surface of the canvas, transforming it into a pastel-hued monochrome.