As a partner of sonsbeek2020, in the summer of 2020 the Kröller-Müller Museum presents three solo exhibitions of artists who, as yet, play little or no role in the history of modern art: the Dutch Sedje Hémon (Rotterdam, 1923–The Hague, 2011), the Pakistani Imran Mir (Karachi, 1950–2014) and the Brazilian Abdias do Nascimento (Franca, 1914–Rio de Janeiro, 2011). The semi-retrospectives are the initiative of Bonaventure Ndikung, curator of sonsbeek20→24. The three exhibitions are on display from 5 June to 13 September 2020.

Images:  Imran Mir, Sixth Paper on Modern Art, 1984 / Abdias do Nascimento, Afro Standard, 1993 /  Sedje Hémon, Indignation, 1963

Sedje Hémon. Emotion of spirits

The work of Jewish-Dutch painter and composer Sedje Hémon is at the intersection of visual art and music. Hémon’s work is tightly interwoven with her biography: her career as a violinist was thwarted by traumas inflicted at Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War. Since the early fifties, she focused on painting in which she seeks the ‘full, objective integration of music and painting’. Hémon’s abstract paintings are both image and music score and can actually be performed musically according to an ingenious system that she herself developed. Despite the efforts of Dutch art historian and critic Hans Jaffé (1915–1984) in the 1960s, Hémon’s work remained virtually unknown. Her work has been rediscovered in recent years thanks, in part, to the inclusion of 15 of Hémon’s painting-scores in Documenta 14 by Ndikung.

Imran Mir. A world that is not entirely reflective but contemplative

The Pakistani painter, sculptor and designer Imran Mir has always been reluctant to explain his work. His entirely abstract work contains no references to the ‘visible world’. In his paintings and sculptures, Mir uses a purely visual vocabulary of grids, patterns, circles, triangles and organic forms. Educated in Denmark and Canada, Mir is well aware of the developments in modern Western art. He regards his exhibitions as ‘non-academic statements on modern art’ and consistently calls them ‘Papers on modern art’. His Sixth paper on modern art (1984) contains recognizable recollections of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (ca. 1490) in which man serves as the measure of things. From the year 2000, influenced by Mark Rothko and others, Mir made monumental paintings in saturated colours that can visually envelop the observer and that evoke the sublime.

Abdias do Nascimento. Being an event of love

The work of Afro-Brazilian poet, playwright, essayist and politician Abdias do Nascimento is rooted in the African tradition. In his paintings he uses symbols, myths, concepts and aphorisms from ancient Egypt and the West African Yoruba and Ashanti ethnic groups. Nascimento’s paintings are populated by Orishas, spirits or supernatural beings from the Yoruba religion in particular, painted in bright, unmixed colours. His work defies traditional art-historical categories, such as figuration or abstraction. Nascimento himself speaks of art as ‘an event of love’, and as ‘a gesture of human and cultural integration’. In the 1970s, Nascimento was very active in the international Pan-African movement and lived for extended periods in exile, where he produced a large part of his oeuvre. In 2004, Nascimento was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his years of struggle against racial abuse in Brazil.

Sonsbeek and the Kröller-Müller Museum

The Kröller-Müller Museum and Sonsbeek have a long shared history. As early as the third edition of Sonsbeek in 1955, Bram Hammacher, director of the Kröller-Müller Museum from 1947 to 1963, sat on the selection committee. His successor Rudi Oxenaar, director from 1963 to 1990, was curator of the sixth edition: Sonsbeek buiten de perken (1971). Over the years, various works presented at the exhibition in Arnhem have been acquired by the museum, including The scream (The couple) (1928-1929) by Jacques Lipchitz, Trowel (1971) by Claes Oldenburg and Secrets of the waters (for Mnemosyne) (2008) by Ana Maria Tavares. There are two Sonsbeek pavilions in the museum’s sculpture garden: the Rietveld pavilion (1964–1965, designed in 1954–1955) and the Van Eyck pavilion (2005, designed in 1965–1966).

The three solo exhibitions of Sedje Hémon, Imran Mir and Abdias do Nascimento are accompanied by three publications edited by Bonaventure Ndikung.

Imran Mir: (English)
Sedje Hémon: (Dutch)
Abdias do Nascimento: (Portuguese)

The exhibition Abdias do Nascimento. Being an event of love is produced in collaboration with:

Works Imran Mir © Imran Mir Art Foundation (IMAF) - Works Abdias do Nascimento © IPEAFRO (Instituto de Pesquisas e Estudos Afro-Brasileiros / Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute) - Works Sedje Hémon © Estate of Sedje Hémon