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.
Navid Nuur (b. 1976, Tehran) lives and works in The Hague. He started out as a graphic designer and illustrator, but around ten years ago decided to move into autonomous work, and quickly became a rising star in the international art world. He has had one-man shows at the Marta Herford Museum in in Herford, Germany, at Centre Pompidou in Paris, Parasol Unit in London and the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht. Nuur has received the Volkskrant Art Prize (2010), the Charlotte Köhler Prize (2010), the Royal Award for Modern Painting (2011) and the Discoveries Prize at Art Basel in Hong Kong (2013) for his work.