The new exhibition by Nekoda Singer at Barbur features paintings hanging from the rafters in the manner of flags alongside objects, or rather a collection that has been constructed from a conglomeration of old and discarded materials – dolls, toys, drawers and shelves that seem to have been rescued from the trash by their present elevation to the status of works of art.
Nekoda has previously drafted a manifesto on behalf of a movement to which he belonged called “Neo-Eclecticism” – and indeed eclectic is a good word to describe the nature of Nekoda’s choices. He brings back objects that have been discarded and rescues them from oblivion, combining and transforming them to create something new.
Nekoda’s paintings also serve as sculptural compositions, uniting different mannerisms and styles with countless references from the world of culture, literature and collective memory – particularly a Russian one.
The exhibition holds a distinct sense of time – time that has passed but also time that has frozen. Nekoda’s sense of time is not a linear notion with parts that are closer while others are farther away but rather a dimension without space, where everything is adjacent to everything else and equally accessible. So, in Nekoda’s paintings cubist phrases, Soviet anecdotes, renaissance figures, atypical still lives and contemporary representations of Jerusalem all coexist side by side.
Nekoda pauses at and returns to all those things that have been sentenced to exist only in the past tense, things that are doomed and make up the “realm of culture”, or rather used to make up the “realm of culture” before the shift of emphasis towards the contemporary and the new.
There is something very melancholic and even nostalgic about Nekoda’s work. It is an attempt to rescue a world that is disappearing. The different details that his consciousness focuses on as it jumps from topic to topic are like the personal items snatched by a man fleeing a burning house in a last attempt to rescue something from the flames – a cherished book, a china cup, a chair.
A number of the paintings show Jerusalem or, more precisely, Nachlaot which is the neighborhood where Nekoda lives. Sometimes he places the old houses of Nachlaot upside down at the top of the canvas to signify them as the heavenly Jerusalem. By so doing he turns Jerusalem the real city of today into the higher concept of Jerusalem as it was perceived throughout history, as an abstract city of the heavens.
Through Nekoda’s eyes, the present is also encompassed within the same sphere as the past and is perceived through a strong historical awareness. The sense of memory and history is so strong and so much defines the works of Nekoda Singer that by comparison any other object of contemporary art placed next to them would seem to be suffering from amnesia.