Emmanuel Nassar (1949 - )

Untitled (1987)

Acrylic on canvas
height: 125cm
width: 144cm

Donated by Siron Franco 1995


Nassar's technique famously embraces error and shuns perfection. He selects symbols and, placing them strategically within an otherwise sparse field of colour, they become icons of the imperfect success of bad choices, bad taste.

In a manner that is characteristic of Nassar's painting, a symbol pins this canvas down at each corner. In other examples of Nassar's work, it is the E and N of the artist's name that are placed, as if at cardinal cartographic points, at the corners of the canvas. Here it is the light-bulb socket: the most basic form that a lamp could take. Such sockets are often used to obtain light illegally: hooked-up to the official sources with makeshift wiring.

And at the centre, a simple map of Brazil and a cine-camera are juxtaposed; Brazil is isolated from the South American continent and from the rest of the world but linked to the camera by imaginary rays. These rays recall the lines used to connect the eye of the observer to the object observed, in Renaissance drawings illustrating the theory of perspective. Like perspective construction, the camera is a device for capturing a live image and translating it into an artefact. Fifteenth century developments in perspective were paralleled by developments in mapping, and perhaps here Nassar is citing both map and camera (each with a component desire to capture the world) as - alongside the light bulb lamp - two more imperfect machines.

Isobel Whitelegg

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