July 1–October 16, 2022
Abstracting Parables is the result of a collaboration between three historical voices and aesthetic views, each giving their own interpretations of how abstraction might be translated into diverse and complex languages. Sedje Hémon (1923–2011), a Dutch-Jewish painter and composer, Abdias Nascimento (1914–2011), an Afro-Brazilian painter, poet, essayist, dramatist, and political activist, and Pakistani artist and designer Imran Mir (1950–2014) are featured in the exhibition.
Abstracting Parables is a work of translation that was conceived as an exhibition with three in(ter)dependent chapters. The exhibition considers the translations of meaning to form, thoughts to symbols, symbols to language, and language to experiences, as well as the meaning to form, thoughts to symbols, symbols to language, and language to experiences.
Hémon’s, Mir’s, and Nascimento’s links with abstraction, geometry, spiritualities, and histories, as well as the way their works fundamentally defy the limitations of modernism—opening up a world of various modernisms—are at the heart of this exhibition. The exhibition showcases the artists’ diverse oeuvres spanning geographies and histories as stories that bring together and intertwine aesthetic, sociopolitical, spiritual, and scientific discourses.
The Stedelijk continues its critical engagement with the blind spots, historical gaps, and silences in its collection by presenting these viewpoints. What impact does this exhibition have on the Stedelijk’s existing collection narratives?
Abstracting Parables has a Contextualisation Room in the middle of the exhibition circuit for wandering spirits. Here, the three artists’ artistic fragments are intertwined to highlight how they are linked by overarching themes like resistance, cosmos, and sound. Parasite Radio, sonsbeek2024’s (digital) radio program, is also located here.
The exhibition contains a sonic route that softly walks you around and animates the worlds of Hémon, Nascimento, and Mir, similar to a mixtape. With contributions from friends, family members, artists, and subsequent generations—voices that keep these artists’ memory and practice alive today.
Opening Day Programmes
On Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2, a series of talks and interventions on Abdias Nascimento, Imran Mir, and Sedje Hémon will take place as part of the public opening. Elmyra van Dooren, Zippora Elders, Claire van Els, Krista Jantowski, Elisa Larkin Nascimento, Aude Christel Mgba, Nighat Mir, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, and Romy Rüegger will be among the speakers.
Sedje Hémon. Imran Mir. Abdias Nascimento. Abstracting Parables is curated by Amal Alhaag and Aude Christel Mgba with the 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 Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.