Critics’ Picks

Navid Nuur, There, 2012, neon, transformer, wires, 12 x 24”.

Navid Nuur, There, 2012, neon, transformer, wires, 12 x 24”.


Alis/Filliol and Navid Nuur

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Via Piazza Vecchia, 6
June 2–July 8, 2012

Since 2011, Stefano Raimondi and Mauro Zanchi have been curating “Ogni cosa a suo tempo” (All in Good Time), a series of exhibitions that pair two artists (or collectives) in a fascinating site that is usually closed to the public: the women’s galleries of the Romanesque basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, two large rooms with stone vaults. Given the anything-but-neutral nature of the setting, the artists are always encouraged to create site-specific works. For the fourth iteration of the exhibition, the curators have invited the Turin, Italy–based artists Alis/Filliol (Davide Gennarino and Andrea Respino) and Iranian-born, Netherlands-based artist Navid Nuur. Both artists’ works seem inspired by the women’s galleries, but with opposite results in both spirit and form.

Alis/Filliol present a single piece, Mofo (all works 2012), an impressive sculpture of black polyurethane foam, clay, paint, and sand that combines roughly squared-off blocks, magmalike drippings, and swellings similar to cankers. The work rises up to nearly thirteen feet, akin to a sooty ruin of some gothic monument, and the deformed cast of an arm emerges from the upper portion, as if it were all that remained from an earlier human form. Nuur, instead, was perhaps influenced by the medieval mysticism of light. After having hermetically sealed the windows of his room, he installed a dark, rarified environment where each work glows, either with its own light or because of a lamp focused on it. Lit by an intense spotlight, three car windshields reveal brushstrokes of iridescent enamel; in another work, a reflector panel shines like the gold background of an ancient painting. Finally, in There, 2012, the word HERE, written in a dim greenish neon light, is illuminated intermittently by white light that transforms the word into THERE. This last work seems to be an allusion to the very nature of Nuur’s art, suspended between physical presence and immateriality, between a phenomenological “here” and a psychological or spiritual “elsewhere.”

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.