‹Monochrome in Colour›: Arno Nollen, Natasha Jaliuc

In the exhibition the Dutch artist Arno Nollen enters into relations with the young Moldovan photographer Natasha Jaliuc. The exhibitions title ‹Monochrome in Colour› does already indicate the complexity of the artworks. Clearly, the black and white photographs are dominant. However, those are deliberately punctuated with some colour pictures and also a coloured video work. “Painting something black and white” describes a situation in which no compromise can be made and extremes oppose each other as antithesis. The exhibition precisely puts such extremes in a discourse. Magnificent landscapes pictures, their nearly surreal beauty being always decadent, stand next to the shocking video pictures of a dying dog. Pictures of women challenge the balancing act of nude photography – only long and intense viewing exposes the incredible presence of the models and justifies the photographer’s magical virtue of empathy. Accrued is an impressive confrontation of two artists from different cultural circles. And circles are also what the art works are about: From circles around the motifs, about rooting out and discovering, about empathy and understanding.

Arno Nollen is interested in the „between“. He is unpretentious, but aggressively detects “no-go areas” and the humans, mostly women, inhabiting those “no-go areas”. His seemingly very intimate portraits bear witness to an incomparable inventive vim, with which he manipulates and on which he works. Adamantly and indefatigably he x-rays a country’s psyche by means of its inhabitants. Those depicted seem always vigorous yet vulnerable at the same time. Photography and video works reflect the artist’s huge force of empathy. He masterfully exposes the secretive instincts of the human psyche. He finds these characters on his prolonged journeys. Thereby he dives into the abysses of society and reveals its “conscience” gently, but unsparingly. This is only possible, because he creates an approach, an awareness of his subjects during their long sittings. The large-format pictures in the exhibition reflect his desire for experimentation. The black and white portrait literally looks straight through the spectator.

The small format series “Untitled Girls” shows the alteration that can occur during a photo session. A glimpse inside a kitchen shows another important aspect in Nollen’s work, which is the familiar insight into every day situations. To some extent his sensually erotic photographs are borderline pornography; but they are also on the cusp of fashion photography. With the insert of movable pieces of scenery, like wigs, plasters, or stockings, he opens a new level of reflection. The video work “Dog in vain” tells the last episode in the life of a Moldovan dog. This is a central work in the exhibition. Hundreds of flies have already worried the animal, every now and then it stumbles in the alleged idyllic babbling brook, and unavoidably the spectator feels a shocking consternation. At last – or at first – Nollen shows one of his rare books, an extensive collection of his work, put together sophisticatedly by hand. While page turning, the artist’s world opens and spreads out in front of us. Nollen’s books to a certain extent supports and embraces his oeuvre, a contextual superstructure, thereby which allowing the artist to do extrapolate his “universe” slowly at the beginning, and then faster as time goes on.

Natasha Jaliuc, a Moldovan living in Russia, made Nollen’s acquaintance on a journey. Without major funds she was working on her artistic career in the former Soviet province. An old photo camera, a gift from Nollen, let her explore the world with “new eyes”. As a result to creating these fascinating works she was invited to become a student at the Rietveld academy of Amsterdam.

Her works fluctuate between; highly poetic landscape pictures and nearly humorous frames. In the exhibition a photograph of two dogs represents these. The transfigured dreamy landscapes are reminiscent of photographic testimonies from the 19th century. Meticulously she analyses the essence of their detail, outlines blur, dissolve – leaving the elementary power of landscape.

Bernhard Bischoff, April 2007