artist / participant

press release

opening: May 2nd 2008, 6 – 9 pm

When walking, we bend and stretch our knees. They are the joints of movement. They take us from one place to the next. They carry us off. The movement is negation, it negates the one place in order to get to the next. Thus with Nader, the knee becomes an image of negation. And the leg with two knees stands for its doubling.

Negation of negation is a fundamental philosophical formula. According to Hegel, with it things begin to enter into being something in the first place, to have a self-concept, and to enter into dialectic movement that propels his philosophy. ‘Something is in a state of being as negation of negation. In as much as this constitutes a reconstruction of the simple relationship onto itself; at the same time, however, something is its own mediacy with itself.’ With negation of negation, Nader returns to Hegel and to himself. As political activist he had studied this formula with Marx and Engels still during his time in Iran. Berlin, however, is the city of Hegel. In the image of negation, Nader finds his own life- and thought story and at the same time a foothold at the place where he lives.

A leg with two knees cannot walk. Because double movement cancels itself out like a double negation. It transforms from an external movement to an internal movement - a motion of thinking. The leg takes on the form of a step of a staircase, it cannot, however, climb stairs anymore. The flight of stairs is a double image also. As painting it becomes a model of a movement like, e.g., in Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. In it, philosophers see the hierarchy of thinking.

Contrary to philosophical statements, images always retain something inconclusive. They can be read, but they are not exhaustive in that (which has been read). The double knee may thus come to mean negation of negation. It arranges it, however, within an overall picture. At times as part of a torso, at others as part of a figure of Christ; occasionally it may rest on a pedestal, or it reveals itself in a self-portrait.

Nader’s paintings want to be read, they want to be understood. But they keep themselves open, they do not exert constraint. They do not contain or carry a fixed meaning, complete information, or definite interpretation. They are neither philosophical conundrum, nor do they lead a surrealist internal life or refer to a rigid iconography. The viewer can approach them unbiasedly. But they are deep. And there is more to see in them than they are showing. Stefan Heidenreich

Nader Ahriman, born in 1964 in Shiraz, Iran, lives and works in Berlin. His work has been shown in many exhibitions in Germany and abroad, among others at the Kunstverein Freiburg, the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, the Kunsthalle St. Gallen, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He will participate at this year’s Manifesta in Italy.

Nader Ahriman
Negation Of Negation