Abstracting Parables presented by sonsbeek20 ->24 at Stedelijk Museum - FAD Magazine

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Abstracting Parables presented by sonsbeek20 ->24 at Stedelijk Museum

Abdias Nascimento Afro Standard Acrylic on Canvas 84-x-54cm Rio de Janeiro 1993. Collection Abdias Nascimento Black Art Museum IPEAFRO-Collection. Photo Miguel Pacheco e Chaves RCS Arte Digital.

Abstracting Parables presented by sonsbeek20 ->24 (the international Arnhem-based art manifestation) has opened at Stedelijk Museum

The exhibition brings together the works of Dutch-Jewish painter and composer Sedje Hémon (1923–2011), Afro-Brazilian painter, poet, essayist, dramatist, and political activist Abdias Nascimento (1914–2011), and Pakistani artist and designer Imran Mir.

Contextualisation room in Sedje Hémon. Imran Mir. Abdias Nascimento - Abstracting Parables, exhibition of Sonsbeek 20?24 in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2022. Photo- Peter Tijhuis
Contextualisation room in Sedje Hémon. Imran Mir. Abdias Nascimento – Abstracting Parables, exhibition of Sonsbeek 20?24 in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2022. Photo- Peter Tijhuis

Conceived as an exhibition with three corresponding chapters, Abstracting Parables is a narrative. In its purpose to communicate and relay, the exhibition ruminates on renditions of context to embodiment, sentiments to memorandum, and expression to anecdotes, both personal and in the general sphere. Paramount to this exhibition is Hémon’s, Mir’s, and Nascimento’s relationships with abstraction, geometry, devoutness, a chronicle of events, and the way their works interrogate the environs of new innovation. The exhibition highlights the artists’ multilayered artworks across geographies and histories, as fable and fiction that bring together and interlace aesthetic, socio-political and scientific rhetoric. 

Works of Imran Mir in Sedje Hemon.Imran Mir. Abdias-Nascimento-Abstracting-Parables-exhibition-of-Sonsbeek-20-24-in-Stedelijk-Museum-Amsterdam-2022. Photo Peter Tijhuis

Hémon’s practice is trans-disciplinarity and the integration/ translation of varying disciplines played an important role, as is reflected in her paintings. Nascimento’s works encompass various Afro-Brazilian religious and cultural themes, using varied shapes and forms to express ideas of manifestation and preeminence. Mir’s work brings together appealingly varied yet harmonising practices of painting, sculpture and design into a single opus. Generally non-figurative, non-representational, and geometrical Mir’s work has a formal sophistication and chromatic elegance. 

Artists question the social constructs and pursue their personal solutions and visions, often in contrast to a culture’s expectations and appreciations. Hémon, Nascimento and Mir’s greatest achievement was to avoid the allurement of culture. This does not mean alienating one’s language, religion and principles; it means shunning the general demand to epitomise culture as a possession in a direct, conspicuous and superfluous manner.


The exhibition is framed within the quadrennial sonsbeek20->24 ‘Force Times Distance: On labour and Its Sonic Ecologies’, Arnhem, The Netherlands.

Abstracting Parables- presented by sonsbeek20 ->24 at Stedelijk Museum 16th October 2022

The exhibition is developed in partnership with the Sedje Hémon Foundation, the Imran Mir Art Foundation and Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute (IPEAFRO). The exhibition is a joint partnership between Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Stichting Sonsbeek. 

The exhibition is curated by Amal Alhaag and Aude Christel Mgba with support of Zippora Elders, Krista Jantowski and Stedelijk curator Claire van Els, under the artistic direction of Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung for Sonsbeek20->24 and Rein Wolfs for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

About sonsbeek

By expanding its time frame until 2024 and initiating a deceleration process, sonsbeek20?24 stages a continuous public and educational program choreographed at different scales that will include a series of demonstrations, events, lectures, workshops, performances, and listening sessions. sonsbeek20?24 is committed to establishing long-term relations between artists and their practices, local communities and institutions, as well as different public sites and their everyday visitors.

The curatorial framework of sonsbeek20?24, centred around labour and its sonicities, connects a millenary history crossing times and geographies to the present moment, through a multitude of voices, sounds, and ripples. It invites us to listen to the sounds relegated to the “edges” of the “main” motive, to the whispered stories, to those passed through singing and through storytelling, and embodied narratives. An edition that inhabits the absence from the dominant image. An edition that draws particular attention to that which has been written otherwise—in singing, playing, performing, dancing, caring, in polyphonic rhythms and multiple motherless-tongues thanks to which memories, traditions, spiritualities, entire cosmologies crossed oceans and deserts. This edition aims to reveal the complex labour relations and inequalities that show who is (un)seen, who is (in)dispensable, who is seemingly worth our applause, and who is fawningly silent. sonsbeek20-24.org



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