ANDRE NIEBUR: Bona to Vada


Press Release


13 September – 27 October 2007

ARQUEBUSE is proud to present the first solo commercial exhibition by André Niebur, following the success of his 5-day solo exhibition at the Kunstverein Dusseldorf in April this year, also entitled ‘Bona to vada’.

The title is taken from the secret language of Polari (or Palare) used widely in Great Britain through the early and mid 20th century in the gay subculture to disguise homosexual activity from potentially hostile outsiders. It would be used as a means of cover, to allow gay subjects to be discussed aloud without being understood; on the other hand, it was also used by the visibly camp and effeminate as a further way to assert their identity. Literally translated, ‘Bona to vada’ means ‘Good to see’ as a form of greeting but in this context suggests a celebration of ‘seeing’ the world.

André Niebur’s paintings capture the lines and colours of scenes in movement. They are directly figurative but impossible to read since all we are left with are abstract marks; flashes of turquoise, mustard and orange or a few parallel coloured lines. In some cases the figurative source of these paintings is more clearly suggested with an abundance of ‘flesh pink’, but in others it might be the lines of a building or telegraph pole in an urban landscape. Niebur’s paintings operate as a process of erasure of what has been seen, while simultaneously joyously engaging with its beauty. They are a secret language and never allow full disclosure of where the artist’s glance has fallen.

Furthermore, these paintings refuse easy categorisation as wall-based works, and occasionally liberate themselves into installations with wooden constructions suggestive of film-sets, protest banners, or balance precariously on roughly fashioned stilts as if going on parade. As the viewer’s eye begins to take in the details a green ribbon is found tied to a piece of wood precisely echoing the green of a painting; the ends of three wooden beams have each been dipped into pots of paint so that their ends are saturated with colour, and each is placed too uniformly to be random, their distance and relationship to one another exactly echoing the dimensions of a domestic staircase.

Installation view of exhibition Bona to Vada, ARQUEBUSE, Geneva 2007

'Untitled', 2007, acrylic on canvas, 210 x 270 cm, (A00295)

Installation view of exhibition Bona to Vada, ARQUEBUSE, Geneva 2007

Installation view of exhibition Bona to Vada, ARQUEBUSE, Geneva 2007

'Untitled', 2007, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm, (A00330)

Installation view of exhibition Bona to Vada, ARQUEBUSE, Geneva 2007

'Untitled', 2007, acrylic on canvas, 160 x 200cm, (A00303)

Installation view of exhibition Bona to Vada, ARQUEBUSE, Geneva 2007

'Untitled', 2007, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 140 cm, (A00298)

Installation view of exhibition Bona to Vada, ARQUEBUSE, Geneva 2007

'Untitled', 2007, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 165 cm, (A00329)