Navid Nuur

I am because of you (solo show)
Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague
1 June – 18 October 2020

Navid Nuur, Untitled, 2015, collage
Navid Nuur, Untitled, 2015, collage

Viewers have no choice but to engage with the work of Hague artist Navid Nuur, as he invites us to become part of something fascinating. As a result, his work sticks in the back of the mind, making us think, perhaps even prompting us to become makers ourselves. Sometimes his work is not really complete until the flash of your telephone, or the scratch of your pencil. It keeps you alert, at any rate.

I am because of you will consist largely of work that Nuur made specially for this exhibition at Kunstmuseum Den Haag. A key focus will be minerals and rocks and the way they evolve and transform. Nuur believes the same matter flows through all of us, and we are all part of one another. No one can escape these connections – and neither can art. One lives because another exists.

From this perspective, Nuur always sees his work in relation to the space in which it is displayed. If the exhibition were in another place, it would be arranged and presented differently. Nuur’s work therefore deliberately responds to what is already present, whether visible or not: the shadows, the architecture and the light.

Heat can melt materials and transform them into something new, as in ceramics. But heat can also give light, which Nuur also regards as a material. The exhibition includes a painting made of finely ground vitamin D pills, for example.

Nuur associates light with the divine, with belief in God and the human quest for eternity. The resurrection of Jesus represents the ultimate transformation of human and matter. By including his own version of Resurrection (1560-1565), an engraving by Philips Galle after a work by Pieter Bruegel (on loan from the Rijksmuseum), Nuur highlights the fact that we ourselves are part of such established narratives. By repeatedly visualising them, we chisel these ‘hardened’ narratives into stone. Nuur believes our own desire for immortality lies behind this tendency.

But an artwork has no value until a viewer invests emotion in it, according to Nuur. ‘That’s why you hang something on the wall, why you look at it, because you relinquish a piece of yourself and allow the artwork to look after it.’ Visitors will be able to take something home with them from I Am Because of You. Something ‘authentic’: a genuine, unique artwork they have made themselves, that both comes from the exhibition and might easily have featured in it.

Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague


Karel Appel, Navid Nuur et al.

CoBrA. The colour of freedom (group show)
Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam
1 June – 4 October 2020

How is it supposed to be? The artists of the CoBrA group did not consider this important at all. They completely disregarded the academy’s rules.

Directly after World War II, they were in need off a free way of painting. And that included colour. They often painted animals and fantasy creatures. But their war past is also visible on their canvases.

CoBrA, the colour of freedom contains more than twenty paintings, some sculptures and two ceramic bowls. You can see the Primal Animal and The Wild Boy by Karel Appel and other masterpieces by Constant, Corneille, Eugène Brands, Anton Rooskens and Lotti van der Gaag. All art is part of the museum collection, the museum purchased CoBrA work in the early 1950s.

Stedelijk Museum Schiedam

Artist Pages

Navid Nuur et al.

From the Collection | Poetic Faith (group show)
Museum of Contemporary Art (S.M.A.K.), Ghent
8 February – 11 October 2020

Navid Nuur’s work included in the edition „The Dutch Connection – A4 Multiple (5)“, S.M.A.K., Ghent, 2015. Photo: Dirk Pauwels, Collection S.M.A.K., Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent
Navid Nuur’s work included in the edition „The Dutch Connection – A4 Multiple (5)“, S.M.A.K., Ghent, 2015. Photo: Dirk Pauwels, Collection S.M.A.K., Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent

A person can never perceive truth and fiction at the same time. But there is such a thing as ‘poetic faith’ or the ‘suspension of disbelief’. This is a mechanism in our brains that automatically triggers a temporary suspension of our belief in rational, perceptible reality, thereby allowing us to believe in the fiction we encounter at that moment. Indeed, whilst reading a novel or watching a film, we ‘believe’ in the story, however implausible it might seem. ‘Poetic faith’ is considered an essential ingredient for storytelling of any kind.

Many art forms are, by definition, fictitious. That is why they require an act of ‘poetic faith’ or the ‘suspension of disbelief’. Unlike literature, poetry, theatre and film, contemporary visual art is frequently based on a non-linear chronology. Moreover, it also involves elaborate forms of abstraction and conceptualisation, which hinders the ‘suspension of disbelief’.

The exhibition ‘Poetic Faith’ can be seen as a tribute to the power of, and belief in, the imagination. It challenges us to set aside the faith we place in our own (rational) reality, thereby allowing us to perceive ‘impossible’ artworks as ‘perfectly possible’ at first sight.

With work by Shikh Sabbir Alam, Guillaume Bijl, Marie Cloquet, Leo Copers, Hanne Darboven, Thierry De Cordier, Markus Degerman, Jef Geys, Joseph Grigely, Jorge Macchi, Bruce Nauman, Navid Nuur, Panamarenko, Giulio Paolini, Mandla Reuter, Jason Rhoades, Gil Shachar, Nedko Solakov, Birde Vanheerswynghels, Jan Van Imschoot, Tamara Van San and Philippe Van Snick.

Museum of Contemporary Art (S.M.A.K.)