THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice (group show)
To coincide with the 58th Venice Biennale
Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia, Venice
9 May - 23 November 2019
In celebration of its 15th anniversary, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present, through a prism of classical Persian poetry, an exhibition of works by nine contemporary Iranian artists at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia from 9 May to 23 November 2019.
Curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Parasol unit, London, THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice exhibition has at its heart the need to develop mutual respect and understanding between different nations and cultures. Fittingly, this exhibition coincides with the 200th anniversary of West-oestlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan), 1819, a book of lyrical poems written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in homage to the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafez.
The nine artists, all of whose vision looks beyond the ordinary, were selected for the affinity with openness, respect and human interconnectedness that is evinced in their work. Stemming directly from a long and magnificent tradition of Persian poetry, this philosophy of life is a fundamental element of the Iranian/Persian character. Dialogues open up across the exhibition, not only between the different generations of artists and the geographical regions from which they now draw inspiration, but also through a common desire to interact openly and respectfully with others. And, just as Goethe through his poetry sought to bridge East and West, these artists too seek to communicate mutually across all borders.
THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice exhibition of paintings, sculptures, installations, multi-media and film brings together Iranian artists of different ages, who now live and work either in or outside of Iran. Having had a similar early education and grounding in classical Persian poetry they have all benefited from thought processes that are rooted in concepts such as the use of metaphor, openness, dialogue and figurative thinking. Shown together, their works create a sense of exchange that is felt in many ways across and beyond the exhibition, not only between the art works but also in the desire of the artists to communicate with thinkers from other cultures, and finally between art and music.
Venice, with its renowned history of being central to so many connections between East and West, is an ideal setting for The Spark is You exhibition. Presented at the Conservatorio di Musica in Venice, visual art and music interact harmoniously, a reminder that different art forms are all part of a single discourse. Each artist presents their work in a separate room or an outdoor courtyard, which allows ample mental space for viewers to reflect on the exhibition and create their own dialogue with and between the works.
THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice exhibition highlights the vital importance of open dialogue in the development of greater understanding between all nations. Particularly in the tumultuous and uncertain times of today, this exhibition is timely and informative in ways that we hope will further engender curiosity, understanding and appreciation of other cultures and stimulate more conversations.
Hocus Focus (solo show)
Marta Herford Museum, Herford
26 January – 23 August 2020
The Iranian artist, Navid Nuur (born 1976 in Teheran, lives in Den Haag) engages in his work with fundamental questions of perception. He makes the invisible visible, and hones the consciousness for the small, nondescript things and processes in the world.
This exhibition is the first extensive presentation by the artist in Germany since 2009, and also includes some new productions. His paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, text works and installations can be experienced as humorous and at the same time thought-provoking commentary and reflection of reality. With a playful wink of the eye and philosophical sophistication, the individual exhibition is aimed at guests of all age groups who want to join this artistic “materials researcher” on his quest to see the world with different eyes.
Marta Herford Museum, Herford
I am because of you (solo show)
Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague
1 June – 18 October 2020
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
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.)