Contemporary Art Gallery Madrid

Michel Nedjar

Michel Nedjar paintings-sculptures-drawings and Jean Dubuffet Livre-Poème 'La Fleur de Barbe'

December 1, 2018 – January 26, 2019

Michel Nedjar was born in 1947 in Soisy-sous Montmorency (France).

Michel Soskine is proud to present the first exhibition in Spain of Michel Nedjar, one of Art Brut most exhibited  artist in the world.

In 1945, Jean Dubuffet theorize the concept of “ Art Brut” rooted in the artistic production of the alienated or demented in psychiatric hospitals such as Heloise Corbaz or a spiritualist like Augustin Lesage as well as the production of the “ common man”, uncultured author of unusual works characterized  by a saturated support . These men and women are not interested in confronting themselves with art history and  create for their own  psychic necessity. Their works, also not meant for any particular destination, is closely linked with their inner self.
Just like André Breton before him, Jean Dubuffet recognized  these works as authentic artworks that he will later gather in the world famous collection of Musée de l´Art Brut in Lausanne ( Switzerland). 

In 1981, Dubuffet wrote to Nedjar:

“ Your art  is  very frightening, terribly tragic. But life is very tragic, so it is better to face it than to misrepresent it. Better not to dissimulate where and whom we are. You are representing life in a very strong manner and with uncommon potency”.

Michel Nedjar was born in 1947 en Soisy-sous-Montmorency  of a polish Ashkenazi mother and a Sefaradi algerian father, a tailor, who transmitted his son with his passion for textiles. As a child, Nedjar started making clothes for his sister´s puppets while helping his grandmother sell rags in her Paris flea market store.

Aged 14, Nedjar left school and started learning the tailoring trade. At that time, he watches  Alain Resnais movie “ Nuit et Brouillard” and becomes conscious that most of his family had disappeared or been exterminated during the Holocaust. This experience would remain the most tragic event of his adolescence and  life.

In 1976, after a deep depression, Nedjar starts making his first “puppets” out of sewn fabrics .
 In 1984 together with Claire Teller and Madeleine Lommel, Michel Nedjar  pioneered the  collection  of Art Brut “ L’Aracine” culminating in 1996 with a donation of 3,500 works  to the Lille Museum of Modern Art  (LAM) in Villeneuve d’ Ascq.

The present exhibition include 21 works ( Paintings, drawings and one sculpture)  from the “Belleville period”, one of the artist´s most sought after period and named after the Paris neighborhood where Michel Nedjar first studio was located. Gathered by a private collector who acquired them  between 1984 and 1992, these works are drawn or painted on recycled material: wrenched from the past are old found rags used for making puppets or discarded  papers such as  envelopes, train tickets, boarding passes, packaging paper  whose folds, marks and stains are a testimony of their memories and suffering.The use of disposed trash symbolizes a rejection of consumer society, at a time when the artist positioned himself as an “outsider” and when Minimal and Conceptual works dominated the art world.

Using his fingertips dipped in heavy paint, Michel Nedjar combines his direct “fingerprinting” painting method with an application of wax on paper that he will later flatten with an iron. 
Used by his father, a tailor, the iron was a familiar tool  and has had a capital role in Nedjar creative process.   When he irons his works after having applied wax, acrylic and pastel on them, the heat melts the surfaces and brings back to the surface a singular smooth texture . The paintings or drawings, can be best understood by the fact that Nedjar often compares his creative process as if entering a shamanic trance . Just like a sculptor, this physical  relationship in the act of creating gives birth to multiple entangled figures, crowds and  masks without mouth, human shadows , animals like birds, a goat, a rabbit or an elephant all emerge from the depth of rescued paper. 
Nedjar works by series and gives them titles such as  “Icones”, “ Presences“, or Absences”: To feel is more important than to think and as a chaman, he  searches  for the secretive  ways and energies of life.

Between 1976 and 2016, Nedjar participated in more than 237 exhibitions, 69 solo shows  in galleries and museums across Europe, United States and Asia. His work is included in the collections of the Pompidou Center, The Lille Museum of  Art Contemporain et Art Brut , Le Musée de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Le Musée des Abattoirs Toulouse ( Collection Daniel Cordier).
and  is present in many museum collection or private foundations.


In the adjacent room will be presented Jean Dubuffet , 1960 poetic book “ La Fleur de Barbe” -  illustrations of his “ Beard Series”  with hand written poems as a dialog with Michel Nedjar.