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 6’, mixed media collage on paper, 13 cm wide x 23 cm high, 2011, by Kurt Nahar.
Collage may seem like an easy medium. A stack of old magazines, a pair of scissors – and even those are not really necessary –, some regular craft glue and you are good to go. Others provide the images and the only thing left to do for you as an artist, is to create a composition with them. You are not even at risk of getting your hands dirty.
This untitled work from 2011 by Kurt Nahar proves however, that a good collage requires more than that.
The whole already delivers a strong image. It immediately attracts attention. The torn edges add a vulnerable note, while the man – is it a man? – rather seems to exude strength; a tension field that intrigues.
Different parts of the work contain similar contradictions. The transparent area to the left must be by Michelangelo, a type of house artist from the Catholic Church. The festive bottom part refers to the Swiss Guard of that same church. The chubby baby has been torn from the arms of the classical mother-with-child. What does the armor have to do with it? That radiates aggression. In reality the Swiss Guard wears a type of operetta helmet. One that is more likely to make you laugh, with its red crest.
Is ‘protection’ that which the various elements have in common?
From other work by Kurt Nahar it is evident that he has a strong aversion to violence, especially to senseless violence. He wants us to take note of figures who use their positions of power to legitimize violence.
Is this work then a portrayal of ‘how to protect oneself’ or is it the other way around, ‘what does protection embody?’ A sensitive shoulder, an open visor, a child that has been torn from his mother, and an army that closely resembles a tourist attraction.
I tend towards the latter, but the artist does not provide an answer. He only makes the viewer aware of the subject matter. The impact of the image alone causes you to think about it.
While many of Nahar’s collages are outright about politics, in this work more attention is given to the form and the message is merely implicit.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, June 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2015
Want to see this and other work of Kurt Nahar ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Kurt Nahar please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/kurtnahar.
This work featured in a previous edition of ‘An Eye for Art’:
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on July 11, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on July 2, 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.