In collaboration with art critic Rob Perrée, Readytex Art Gallery has developed a new, informative initiative: An Eye for Art. Once every two weeks Rob Perrée discusses a work of art from the collection of Readytex Art Gallery. This time he discusses the collage ‘War Monument 8’, collage on paper, 40 cm wide x 30 cm high, 2011, by Kurt Nahar.
Kurt Nahar (1972) is not an artist who aims to please, nor does he try to seduce his audience with beauty. He has a mission. In fact, with his work he wants awaken the viewer and he does this by paying attention to themes many would rather avoid talking about. The December murders for example. This may not make him popular, but it does earn him respect. It takes guts to express your opinion in a small community.
He opts for wide variety of forms of expression: installation, drawing, painting, collage and poetry. The latter is less surprising than it may seem. Words, texts: they appear in many of his works. Sometimes as a visual element, often as a suggestive exclamation.
In this work – ‘War Monument 8’ from 2011 – he illustrates the madness and cruelty of war and violence by juxtaposing vulnerability and liveliness versus power and death. That sculls rest on and in a red field is no coincidence, nor is it that he portrays vulnerability with a ballet-like young girl. He may not choose aesthetic images, but in this piece he does show that he has a good sense of imagery. It is a war memorial with a powerful presence, an image that will stay with you always.
In much of his work Nahar refers to DADA, an art movement from the 1910s and 1920s, which was characterized by engagement, provoking controversial debate and ignoring the prevailing codes and art laws. His collages and photo-montages are certainly influenced by artists such as Raoul Hausmann and Hanna Höch, but also by Rodchenko and Lissitzky. His texts remind me more of those by Walter Mehring and Paul van Ostaijen. Through that broad frame of reference he takes his local mission to an international level.
TEXT Rob Perrée, January 2014
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2014
Want to take a closer, personal look at this work? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Maagdenstraat 44-upstairs, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Kurt Nahar please visit the website www.readytexartgallery.com/kurtnahar.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on February 26, 2014 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on February 26, 2014.
Because really looking at art and understanding art are not always obvious and easy to do, we hope that these regular reviews will at least offer you some insight into the process. You will get to see how a connoisseur looks at art, discusses it, and then links the work to others within the international art world.
Of course you can only truly judge a work of art when you are actually standing in front of it yourself. We therefore hope to see you soon in Readytex Art Gallery and are eager to hear what you think of this artwork, and which other works of art you find yourself drawn to. Please note that the artworks discussed are still available for purchase at the time that the review is published.
Rob Perrée is art historian and works as freelance writer, art critic and curator, specialized in contemporary (Afro-) American art, African art, Surinamese art and art using new media. His work has appeared in countless catalogues, books, magazines and newspapers. He is editor of Sranan Art Xposed, editor in chief of Africanah.org and a member of the editing team of Pf Photo Magazine. His website: http://robperree.com.