For the first monographic retrospective of Hayan Kam Nakache at Fri Art, the young artist of Syrian origin presented a selection of approximately sixty modestly scaled drawings on paper, framed and arranged at eye level into a parcours. Sometimes paired, rarely arranged in groupings of four, mostly simply successive, the work manifestly avoided the rhetoric of display to mark a distance from theoretical recuperation. Confirming this rejection, the selection seems to have been extirpated from an infinite series of sketches, mocking the quality of the finished product as a selection criterion. The drawings, some in color, most black and white, evoke with a variety of strokes a vast range of references, from the trashy ambience of Gary Panter-like underground comics, to amateurish third-zone graffiti, to Arabic calligraphy, to the more artsy William Copley or the bizarre humor of Amelie von Wulffen. In Kam Nakache’s world, the expressionist, the abstract and the figurative all loosely jumble together with trivial notes and references to whatever, you name it. Within the mass of lines and surfaces, figures emerge as semi-recognizable aggregates: landscapes turn into faces, while a figure might switch into a letter. Tempted to decipher, the visitor enters into a game of association that makes no sense yet suggests the process of imagination itself.
Against rational consequence, Kam Nakache points at the simplicity of human troubles. The work aims to maintain a practice outside the sphere of instrumentalization. Whereas experts might detect talent and conclude that this insistent messiness approaches wit, distancing the work from that of the amateur scribbler, no doubt the artist would recommend otherwise. Dissolving the dichotomy between adult and child, he might modestly mention the training it requires to master such a high degree of incompetence.
by Nicolas Brulhart