Balance, patterns and rhythms, are the words that jump to mind when visiting Amir Nour’s exhibition, "Amir Nour: A Retrospective (1965–Present): Brevity is the Soul of Wit" at Bait Al Serkal, Sharjah. UAE. Running from the 19th of November 2016 - 12th of January 2017. Nour’s exhibition is part of three exhibitions on Sudan Visual Art running parallel to each other, sponsored and organized by Sharjah Art Foundation and Co-curated by HE Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, and Dr. Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor at the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University, New York.
Entering Amir Nour’s exhibition, on November 12th, 2016 for the pre-opening preview. It was like an awakening, looking into Nour’s minimalist style sculptures. It makes one feels as if the place is filled with music. With the repetitive patterns which create tranquil rhythms; still but not rigged, it has a calming kind of stillness. As if he is omitting all unnecessary details and noise! Felt joy, innocence, sorrow, hope and grief, grace, peace and serenity. Through the sculptures, you discover Nour’s calculative mind, his grasp on logic, his wit, and love for humanity.
Nour’s sculptures interact with their surroundings, with the changing light and shadow, throughout the day. It felt like, they do have different rhythms in the morning and at sunset. In their minimalist style, they look simple, easy and direct. However they are anything but simple! The forms and the masses, play with the negative space within them and space they occupy, complementing it or in other parts contrasting the space. Nour’s sculptures at “Bait Al Serkal”, they look like they were made for this specific space, for that I salute the curators for finding just the right place for every piece. Even though in my humble opinion, I thought “Grazing At Shendi (1969)” needed more space around it, for the viewer to fully appreciate it.
Saw Amir Nour’s work for the first time, in the summer of 1997 in Dallas Texas, in a catalogue, entitled “M.O. Khalil/Etchings - A.I. Nour/Sculpture, Williams, S. H. (Former Curator & Director). The National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, ex cat, 1994”. I like, “Grazing At Shendi (1969)” I believe it is more like a painting or a drawing in it’s core idea, in playing with the perspective and the sizes of the grazing sheep in the distance.
Now visiting Amir Nour’s exhibition in Sharjah, for more than eight times since the official opening on the 19th of November. I couldn’t determine which sculpture is my favorite. Meanwhile, I very much like the “Moon, 2016, Steel, 100 centimeters in diameter, commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation”, intrigued by it’s display as well. It give me the feeling that the moon is about to come tumbling down the stairs. It is just about to roll down, but yet it is not moving! Then you discover how it is balanced, a giant steel sphere free standing slightly tilted, with a slit in the middle splitting it into two halves touching at one point. The same in a way in “Return from the Nile” (“Return from the Nile, 1975 Bronze on wooden base 70 x 23 x 18 cm, Collection of Dr. Professor Peter J. Wyllie & F. Rosemary Wyllie), which takes you back to when women and girls used to bring water from the Nile in calabash gourds in early morning and right before the sun sets, and “Doll, 1974, Bronze, 102x53 x41 cm, Collection of Ann Elizabeth Morrison”, and many more of his work, all connect by the same thread of balance and tenderness. Farther more, I believe the forms are driven from the calabash gourd قرع أو بُخسَه , and the reddish Sudanese pottery used to dispense coffee (jabanah) جَبَنَه , both are common in most Sudanese homes. More apparent in his early work like, “One on One, 1966, Bronze, 20x23x25 cm, Collection of Amir I. Nour”) and his work “One and One, 1976, Bronze, 97x97 x81 cm, collection of Ann Elizabeth Morrison”) both in a way were deconstruction of the jabannah form and rearranging it. (jabannah : the traditional Sudanese coffee dispenser made of polished pottery).
“Balance, 2016, Fibre glass & wood, 436 x244x231 cm” at first glance made me remember the infamous seesaw in every playground, the amazing contrast between the yellow wooden bar and the dark blue half sphere, in terms of shape, mass and color, then enjoy the balancing act and the dynamic appeal. Where his work, “Grace, 2016, Fibre glass, 225.6x 178x 300 cm, commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation), is an embodiment of grace, balance and openness.
Visiting Amir Nour exhibition is an astonishing ride, one visit is not enough, to be able to comprehend all these treasures. From Nour’s sculptures, to his early drawings, water colors and lithography prints from the 1970s, photography of his work and his preparatory drawings. I do encourage everyone who can visit, to come and see this show, and the other two shows. Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq: Women in Crystal Cubes, and The Khartoum School: The Making of the Modern Art Movement in Sudan (1945 – present). Hopefully, I will be writing about both shows as well, so stay tuned!
November 30th, 2016
To know more about Amir Nour, please visit:
عامر نور: توازن، أنماط و إيقاعات
ترجمته ميسون النجومي،
لصالح الممر، الملف الثقافي الأسبوعي بجريدة السوداني
ديسمبر 30، 2016