In collaboration with art critic Rob Perrée, Readytex Art Gallery has developed an 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 week he talks about ‘Untitled 11’, mixed media collage on paper, 20 cm wide x 29 cm high, 2011, by Kurt Nahar.
This is a collage by Kurt Nahar (Paramaribo, 1972). Such work is also called a photo-montage. Existing photos are manipulated. They are taken out of their original context and put together in a new arrangement by the artist. It is a genre that already existed in the middle of the nineteenth century, but became especially popular in the 1910’s and 1920’s, primarily in Germany and Russia. Artists such as Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, John Heartfield and Alexander Rodchenko became famous for it.
Its popularity was due to different factors. Photography was still relatively new and many people were therefore fascinated by it. A photo-montage costs hardly anything and can be created quickly. It allows for a quick response to current situations. In turbulent political times – and that is exactly what the second and third decades of the twentieth century were with their wars and revolutions – it was an excellent medium to give criticism, to demonstrate your involvement as an artist.
Nahar uses the photo-montage from that tradition. This work looks like a page out of a catalog from a weapon manufacturer, but that is not at all what it is. Nahar has indeed probably ‘stolen’ these images from such a catalog or a print advertisement, but by cutting them out carelessly and placing them on a white background in an apparently random fashion, without aesthetic or alluring order, he indicates that he is actually opposed to such weaponry. The work is a protest against violence.
Violence is a familiar theme in the work of Kurt Nahar. His abhorrence of the December murders, but also his aversion to all kinds of dictators who maintain their positions with violence, are recurrent themes in his installations, texts and other collages. With them he aims to confront the viewer, and whether his work has an attractive appearance or is made perfectly, is thus of no consequence to him. Beauty and technical skill are subordinate to the message. As long as the viewer is encouraged to think about subjects that are not openly discussed otherwise, then Nahar is content.
With this work he has reached his goal.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, November 2014
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld
Want to see this and other work of Kurt Nahar ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Maagdenstraat 44-upstairs, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Kurt Nahar please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/kurtnahar.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on January 14, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on January 14, 2015.
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.