Selected Works

Wind Map, 2022

mixed media
40 x 30 x 4 cm.; 15 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 1 5/8 in.
Photo: def image

Mono no aware ness, 2010–2022

mixed media on stainless steel panel
37 x 27.7 x 2 cm.; 14 3/8 x 10 7/8 x 3/4 in.
Photo: def image

Untitled (The Passage), 2016–2020

laminated glass collage, mirror
188.5 x 120 cm.; 74 1/4 x 47 1/4 in.
Photo: Jack Hems

‘Peering into darkness, sooner or later perception will morph into imagination. The Passage, a photograph of a cave printed on a gold foil emergency blanket, may be a nod to the dark hole that Alice fell down to get to Wonderland.’

D. van den Boogerd, ‘Navid Nuur: Sandman’s Sand,’ in ArtReview, Summer 2017

Hope, 2012–2020

granite, gold leaf
15 x 8 x 2 cm.; 5 15/16 x 3 1/8 x 13/16 in.
Photo: Jack Hems

The Intercept, 2011–2020

stainless steel panel, mixed media
52 x 38 x 2 cm.; 20 1/2 x 15 x 3/4 in.
Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague
Photo: Bram Vreugdenhil

These are the day, 2004–2020

Installation view: Marta Herford Museum, Herford, 2020
© Marta Herford
Photo: Hans Schröder

‘Nuur’s work evidences a fascination with process, dissemination, dissipation and ephemeral components – light (the artist’s name translates as “light” in Arabic), projections, ash and water. These are the Days (2004–ongoing), for example, is a series of miniature models of spaces made from leftover studio materials, with spyglasses fitted into them so that viewers can ponder their inner workings. His work questions the fixed or static art object, exploring how it might extend beyond the physical and temporal conventions of an exhibition, and into the minds of viewers.’

D. Eichler, ‘Navid Nuur’, frieze, June – August 2010, p. 159

Untitled, 1988–2020

marble, neodymium magnet, iron dust
25 x 90 x 48 cm.; 9 7/8 x 35 3/8 x 18 7/8 in.
Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague
Photo: Bram Vreugdenhil

‘I call my works “interimodules”. This term is made up of the words interim and module. The “m” in interim is actually transposed over the “m” in module – similar to how my works always slightly overlap each other. An interim is someone who temporarily joins an organisation to support some change process – someone who temporarily sets something into motion. A module is a form that can be adapted or linked to some other form. By definition, it is a unified whole, but it can easily be connected to a different module, or linked together. In addition, its characteristics are partly determined by its environs: the dimensions of the space, the intensity of the local light, local air quality, etc. Its meaning as a word can easily be expanded, and as a form, it can absorb any imaginable material or technique – as long as they are deployed within the aforementioned definition. “Interimodule” is a clear definition – albeit a steadily expanding one. Like time, mass and space, it can be stretched.’

N. Nuur, Mining Memory, exh. cat., Berlin: Galerie Max Hetzler / Galeria Plan B, p. 10

“      “

heat, time, minerals, patience, luck
dimensions variable
Photo: Jack Hems

The Tuners, 2005–2019

PVC coated fabric, mixed media, in three panels
1 painting: 500 x 400 cm.; 197 x 157 1/2 in.
2 painting: 700 x 400 cm.; 275 1/2 x 157 1/2 in.
3 painting: 500 x 400 cm.; 197 x 157 1/2 in.
THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice
Installation view at Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello, Venice, 2019.
Courtesy of the artist and Parasol unit
Photography by Francesco Allegretto

The Tuners, 2005–2018

prepared linen canvas, mixed media
200.3 x 316.3 x 5 cm.; 78 7/8 x 124 1/2 x 2 in.
203 x 319 x 6.5 cm.; 79 7/8 x 125 5/8 x 2 1/2 in. (framed)
Photo: def image

160 (from the Eyecodex of the Monochrome), 1980–2018

prepared linen canvas, solid marker
200 x 140 cm.; 78 3/4 x 55 1/8 in.
Photo: Charles Duprat

99–96 (from the Eye Codex of the Monochrome), 1988–2017

reflecting sheet, green emulsion, aluminium, light
190 x 270 cm.; 74 3/4 x 106 1/4 in.
Installation view: Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, Kurfürstendamm, 2018
Photo: def image

‘The fascination with the thin dividing line between visibility and invisibility is a constant in Nuur’s painterly exercises. The artist has been attempting, since childhood, to capture on canvas what he sees with his eyes closed. Personally, with my eyes closed, I see little more than darkness and a few hazy spots, which are, I assume, after images on the retina. Navid Nuur, an expert at looking into nothingness, deciphers endless shadowy fields of countless dots and lines, a sort of grid of static. These grids, reconstructed and processed with a computer, are the subject of his largest group of paintings to date, with the title of Eye-Codex of the Monochrome.’

D. van den Boogerd

The Tuners, 2005–2016

prepared linen canvas, mixed media
93 x 75 cm.; 36 5/8 x 29 1/2 in.
96 x 78 cm.; 37 3/4 x 30 3/4 in. (framed)
Photo: def image

Rituals of the Rational

late Cretaceous – 2016
wood fired ceramic made of various stoneware clays, coprolite (petrified dinosaur feces), various types of wood, palm tree ashes, seashells
circa 9.5 x 18 x 13 cm.; 3 3/4 x 7 1/8 x 5 1/8 in.
shelf: 30 x 131 x 3.5 cm.; 11 3/4 x 51 5/8 x 1 3/8 in.

With the series Rituals of the Rational, Navid Nuur is in search of non-functional objects, without any cultural attachments. These a-temporal works result from a long creation process. After gathering unusual materials such as coprolite (fossilised dinosaur faeces) and palm tree ashes, the ceramics are fired with wood for several days. The seashell imprints on the lower part of the stoneware clay were made after a technique similar to the Japanese tradition of firing potteries on shells. The artist seeks to restrict his impact on the shapes of the works. The only intentional artistic decision being the strict selection of the works occurring at the end of the process and Nuur lastly keeping just a few works. One does not sense the long hours of making and the sensitive stages the works had to undergo when faced with the fragile and humble appearance of the ceramics.

Untitled, 2015

linen, Gesso
203.8 x 390.8 x 6.5 cm.; 80 1/4 x 153 7/8 x 2 1/2 in. (framed)
Photo: def image

Untitled (Let us meet inside you), 2005–2015

tap from artist’s studio, water, bottles, stamps, capper, crates
variable dimensions
Installation view: MINING MEMORY, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, 2015
Photo: def image

‘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.’

X. Karskens, ‘Magic Water – On the instinctive logic of Navid Nuur’, in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2010, p. 17

Untitled 220214 (Unified not Uniformed), 2014

hand cut metal, rust, anti rust paints, air, blood
28.3 x 18.8 x 1.5 cm.; 11 1/8 x 7 3/8 x 5/8 in.
Photo: Charles Duprat

Passage, 2014

glass, bitumen, acid, minerals, wax, clay, climbing grips
circa 120 x 88 x 6 cm.; 47 1/4 x 34 5/8 x 2 3/8 in.

Untitled, 2014

Vitamin D (oils, pills, powders) on canvas, bubinga wood
139 x 105 cm.; 54 3/4 x 41 3/8 in.
Photo: def image

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.

Recaptured from the collective, 2014

one thought, time, ink, notepads (85), traced rooftop isolation plates
height sculpture: 403 cm.; 158 5/8 in.; diameter: 110 cm.; 43 1/4 in.
notepads, each: 30 x 25 cm.; 11 3/4 x 9 7/8 in.

‘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.’

N. Nuur, 2014

Your name in gum, 2013

a collaboration between Perceptor and Navid Nuur. Photography by Jhoeko

‘One day, I had to go to the dentist to get my teeth checked. Anyway, while I was there, the dentist told me that you can feel a hundred times more detail with your mouth than with your hands.

While I went back to my studio, I kept thinking about it. OK: the last thing you want to do is put a piece of clay in your mouth when you decide to make some art. [...] No, what I needed to do was get back to the stuff that’s really meant for putting in your mouth, which is GUM. Because your mouth knows exactly what to do with gum, and so do you.

So I put a piece of gum in my mouth and started chewing it really consciously. In my mind, I tried to picture the inside of my mouth. And each time round, really fresh abstract art popped out of my mouth. All of a sudden, I knew what I had to do next. I needed to learn how to chew the alphabet. Because when you talk, words leave your mouth – so it made sense to make them entirely in your mouth with gum. Because them, you’re not only thinking about what you want to say, but also what you want to say will look like.’

N. Nuur, 2013

Mindmap, 2013

140 x 162 x 6 cm.; 55 1/8 x 63 3/4 x 2 3/8 in.
edition 1 of 3, plus 1 AP
Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
© Navid Nuur
Photo: Jack Hems

‘The way in which Navid Nuur relates to material, the space around him and his observations therein can almost be regarded as devout. The attention for detail and the careful fine-tuning of the various elements of the work make the audience part of an “inner” world. In Nuur’s work – although conceptual at first sight – a very personal visual problem becomes the central question. What Nuur has in common with the conceptual artists of the 1960s is the relation between concept and form. For him, however, form is not necessarily the result of the idea, but materialises through a subjective programme of requirements or rules in which intuition has the upper hand. He applies concepts that often relate to a temporary in-between state that places his work between the audience and an often-abstract phenomenon, such as light, energy, air or “rest space”. Nuur’s form – language and meaning are therefore principally purely process-orientated.’

A. Gordts and L. Van Tuyckom, Works from the Van Tuyckom-Taets Collection, Brussels: Leo Van Tuyckom, 2018, p. 329

Coin Press Machine, 2013

Coin Press Machine
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Photo & Credit: Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Thresholder (as pillar IV), 2007–2013

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.’

N. Nuur, ‘When touch can recall itself’, in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2010, p. 146

Redblueredblue, 2008–2013

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 discovered 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.’

N. Nuur, ‘When red and blue start to rumble’, in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2010, p. 210

Untitled (HOCUS FOCUS), 2010–2012

scraped mirrors
180 × 125 × 40 cm.; 70 7/8 x 49 1/4 x 15 3/4 in.
Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
© Navid Nuur
Photo: Peter Cox/Bonnefanten

Untitled (Not like a piece of pie but like rope in a net), 2008–2010

polyester security blanket, aluminium roof coating
210 x 480 cm.; 82 5/8 x 189 in.
Photo: def image

Tentacle Thought Nr. 5 (Hocus Focus), 2006–2010

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.’

N. Nuur, ‘When wires start to wander’, in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2010, p. 72

Untitled (ENCOUNTER), 2006–2007

ink from black felt-tip pen, canvas, water
150 x 200 cm.; 59 x 78 3/4 in.

‘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.’

X. Karskens, ‘Magic Water – On the instinctive logic of Navid Nuur’, in Navid Nuur: The Value of Void, Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2010, p. 16