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


Karel Appel et al.

Disonata. Art in Sound up to 1980 (group show)
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
23 September 2020 – 1 March 2021

Karel Appel in Phonogram Studio, during the project Musique barbare, 1963. Photo B&W. Nederlands Fotomuseum, © Ed van der Elsken
Karel Appel in Phonogram Studio, during the project Musique barbare, 1963. Photo B&W. Nederlands Fotomuseum, © Ed van der Elsken

Curated by Maike Aden, on an original project by Guy Schraenen, this exhibition analyses the development of sound as a creative field of visual arts differentiated from music, from the beginning to the end of the 20th century. The exhibition reflects the efforts of artists who resorted to sound beyond its traditional use in such manifestations as music, poetry or theatre.

By way of introduction, the exhibition includes references to the historical avant-garde; specifically to Futurism, Dadaism and Russian cinema, stopping at pioneering works of media permeability, such as Relâche, Erik Satie, Francis Picabia and René Clair, as well as at futurist experiments materialised in the intonarumori or optophonic poems of Dada, both visual and sound.

The emergence in the middle of the century of technological devices for recording and processing sound expanded the creative possibilities surrounding sound. For example, the exhibition highlights the verbo-vocal research that, following the Dadaist trail, was carried out by lyricism in its drive to do away with language and culture as they had been known up to then. The attempts to "free music" from its more academic and restrictive norms will be reflected in the work of artists such as Karel Appel or Jean Dubuffet. On the other hand, large-scale projects such as the Phillips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels Universal Exhibition represent paradigmatic experiences that modified the relationship of sound and acoustics with the rest of the arts, demonstrating that everything participates in the same way in the sensitive experience.

The exhibition continues with a room dedicated to the intersections of the object and sound, with works by artists such as Jean Tinguely, the Baschet brothers or Nam June Paik. Fluxus processes, projects and performances will shape the next section, articulated by works by such fundamental figures as John Cage, who inspired many of these borderline creative practices.

The exhibition is articulated with the parallel presentation of a series of sound pieces and diverse materials (from drawings and scores to sculptures, films and photographs) that, as a whole, show a non-visual side of the plastic arts that began to emerge with the avant-garde movements themselves.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

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

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.)