Mohamed Namou at Parliament / Paris

'Abduction, absurde surnuméraire ou le gras réseau' / Mohamed Namou

19 January - 24 February, 2024

36 rue d’Enghien
75010 Paris, France 

“My initial intention in using fat was to stimulate discussion. The flexibility of the material appealed to me, particularly in its reactions to temperature changes. This flexibility is psychologically effective - people instinctively feel it relates to inner processes and feelings. The discussion I wanted was about the potential of sculpture and culture, what they mean, what language is about, and what human production and creativity are about. So I took an extreme position in sculpture and material that was very basic to life and not associated with art.”

Joseph Beuys, op. cit.

"What we've learned from modernity, where we never stop accumulating, adding and outbidding, is that it's a subtraction that gives strength, that from absence comes power. And because we can no longer confront the symbolic mastery of absence, we are today plunged into the opposite illusion, that of the disenchanted proliferation of screens and images."

Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime.

In linguistic studies, a distinction is made between the signified and the signifier. The signifier is a material manifestation, taking various forms such as a word, image, gesture and sound. The signified is the mental representation associated with the signifier, not only conceptually in nature, but also symbolic and cultural.

This mental association happen inside us, through movements of associations, connotations, syllogisms and abductions. The brain is indeed a plastic organ: malleable and open to influences and power exercises.

It is in this capacity of images and art objects to signify - in other words, to be a language - that Mohamed Namou builds his practice. Here, images are analyzed as a social engineering environment, a potential place to connect and reorganize our perceptions and paradigms (ideas).

With "Abduction, absurd supernuméraire ou le gras du réseau", the artist explores the contemporary paradox affecting the image: supposing to be a vehicle of meaning, it became its obstacle. The overconsumption of screens and images reduces the space needed to convene what they are the symbols of, and images become signs of themselves, disconnected from their objects and concepts. In this blocked path between signifier and signified, the body loses its centrality as the place of production of meaning and knowledge.

In Mohamed Namou's paintings, silicone - as a sign of fat and the body itself - becomes a metaphor of this ambiguous status of the image: at once the portal between our interiority and the world, it is also what blocks access, what obstructs. In both cases, it is a human material appealing to our feelings.

Within this context, to what extent art can still be language? What is the sign of? What active relationship can still be played between the viewer's body and the work?

Through an interplay of syllogisms, Mohamed Namou rethinks the art object as a space of potentialities. Creating from the deconstruction of the form of painting as a single set of data (space, volume, emptiness, matter), the artworks activate the backward movement of memory and recollection, making the idea of painting present. The painting resides in the viewer's mental space, and the brain regains its place as the organ of thought.

In this way, Mohamed Namou questions the construction and functionality of images, as well as the history of painting and its foundations. In a form of stretching and extension of abstraction, he anticipates our contemporary renewed relations to the notions of surface, plasticity, the space and time of the art object, and its relationship with the body.

Mohamed Namou
(b.1987, Oran) lives and works in Avignon. He is a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (2014). Among his solo exhibitions, his work has been shown at Mor.Charpentier (Paris), Proyectos Monclova (Mexico), Levy.Delval (Brussels), Berthold Pott (Cologne). Among his group exhibitions, his work has been shown at Villa Medicis (Rome), Neuer Kunstverein (Wien), Lewben Art Foundation (Lithuania), Galleria Continua (Boissy-le-Châtel), Kindl Museum (Berlin) and AUTOCENTER (Berlin). His work can be found in various public and private institutions such as Lewben Art Foundation (Lithuania), Maria Baibakova Collection (NY, Moscow), ADNCollection (Bolzano), Zabludowicz Collection (London), Fondazione Memmo (Roma) and the Nomas Foundation (Rome).