“Surrounded from Afar”

03 – 29 May 2023

MAXXI National Museum of 20th Century Arts, Rome

Practicing art to do good. This is the objective of the German artist Dieter Nuhr who, after his success at the Marciana Library in Venice during the last “Biennale”, returns to Italy to exhibit his works.
From 2 to 29 May 2023, the corner space of the MAXXI-National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome will host Circondato da Lontano (Surrounded from Afar), Dieter Nuhr’s solo exhibition, curated by Dirk Geuer. Organized in cooperation with and for the benefit of the YOU Foundation- Education for children in need- and sponsored by the Brost Foundation, the exhibition project features 28 digitally modified photos and paintings, some of which are large-scale and have a pronounced pictorial character.
In addition to photographic works, the exhibition also features digital drawings of adults and children encountered during travels in India, Myanmar and Senegal, including some of the artist’s relatives, placed in geometric spaces delineated by vertical and horizontal lines. In doing so, the figures turn out to be extrapolated from their cultural environment and social status, which can thus be deduced from the clothes they wear as well as the somatic features of their faces, from which one can understand what geographical area they belong to.
The exhibition was inaugurated in the presence of the artist and the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the German Ambassador Viktor Eibling, the Special Ambassador for UNESCO Ute-Henriette Ohoven and the President of the Brost Foundation, Bodo Hombach.
The Artist says: «After my performances in Hagen, Venice and Dakar, to be invited here to Rome, which has been the center of culture for more than 2000 years, I consider it a sign of special appreciation towards me. In the past, culture moved from Rome to the world and now, on the contrary, I am called to bring the world to Rome. My photographs come from all five continents, including my homeland, contrasting urban cultural space with the global bio-diversity of landscapes, showing the beauty of nature and the world without ignoring the fact that there is misery, suffering and a lack of food even in beautiful places. Therefore, it is an honor for me to help all these needy children with all my heart by supporting the YOU Foundation’s projects with my exhibitions.”

The artist
Dieter Nuhr was born in Wesel, Germany in 1960 and lives and works in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Ibiza.
He is a versatile artist active in various artistic fields; in his works he explores themes of familiarity and strangeness, distance and closeness. For years he was a brilliant television host, comedian and satirist, which led him to achieve clear national fame; but, at the same time, Nuhr pursued a serious education in the arts.
From 1981 to 1987 he studied painting at the University of Essen; however, while the 90s saw him still busy with brushes and oil painting, he approached the world of photography and today his works combine painting and photographic elements with the help of modern technologies, that is, since 2020 he has been working on graphic reworking of his own photos taken during his travels with the help of digital programs. All this represents the result of a kind of fusion of different elements and techniques that makes him a special artist, and in 2022 he produced his first public presentation of graphic design, which took place at the Osthaus Museum in Hagen, Germany.

The technique
Nuhr’s art is characterized by the desire to explore and experience the world as a single environment, yet showing an unclear vision of it, typical of memories.
The paintings reinvent the reality that dissolves in the human mind to become memories. Aware of his own incomplete experience of the world, the Artist asks himself “what is it?”, as well as “what remains?”. By subjecting his shots to digital pictorial processes, he manages to make visible the memory of an image as it is felt imprinted in the memory, moving away from its real form. The fading of the photo under the brushstrokes of color thus gives us the perception not of the reality of the image, but of its subjectification.
The use of superimposed digital brushstrokes of color sometimes covers the original photo, creating a new and distant composition from the original analogous to 21st century painting.
Nuhr draws inspiration for his works from his world travels. With his camera, he has already visited more than 100 countries, portraying their landscapes, buildings and people.
The artist distinguished himself with a solo exhibition organized by the Association for Art in Public Dirk Geuer, where works inspired by his travels to Iceland, Mexico, Botswana, Egypt, Armenia, Brazil, Nepal and Peru were contrasted with a series of shots taken in the German Ruhr region – where the Artist was born and to which he is very attached – which plays an essential role in his training and which typical industrial architectures are present in his shots.
Based on his experience as a traveller, which took him to the poorest places on the globe, with his photographic works and his digital paintings, Dieter Nuhr not only highlights the most beautiful aspects of life, but also its darker side, such as hard work, poverty, need for assistance and hunger. Precisely for this reason, the Artist decides to support with his works the projects of the You -Foundation, Education for children in need, founded by the UNESCO Special Ambassador Ute-Henriette Ohoven in 2002.

A traveling exhibition
The project of Nuhr’s works entitled “Surrounded by Distance” is a traveling exhibition and Rome is the fourth stop. The launch of this international exhibition took place in the spring of 2022 at the Osthaus Museum in Hagen, Germany.

The second stop was at the Marciana National Library, which is located in Piazza San Marco in Venice, in conjunction with the 59th International Art Biennale.

Then between November and December of last year it was hosted at the Theodore Monod Museum of African Art in Dakar, Senegal, under the patronage of the German Ambassador to Senegal, Sönke Siemon.

Then, after the Roman stop, from 8 October 2023 the exhibition will be on view again in Germany, in the prestigious Ludwig Museum in Koblenz.

In addition to the leading local and national newspapers, numerous well-known faces also participated in the vernissage, including: Lucrezia Lante della Rovere, Alba Parietti, Giovanna Cicutto.

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