Amir Nour

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Article

Steel sheep in Shendi

The sculptor Amir Nour was born in the north of the Sudan in 1939 and is not only one of his land´s most eminent artists but is also internationally acclaimed, especially in the USA, which has been his second home since 1974. His works seem to be minimalist in style, but the spatial arrangement of his otherwise unpretentious objects reveals very varied cultural and personal influences and associations.
On knowing that Amir Nour from the Sudan created his sculpture ´Grazing at Shendi´ with sheep in the desert near his hometown Shendi in mind, one can well imagine, on viewing over two hundred steel tubes bent into semi-circles and stood on the floor, that one is viewing a herd of sheep. Otherwise this overwhelming installation is taken to be a variation on a constant theme, a masterpiece of minimalist art, whose parts vary only in their size and direction, leaving a vague general impression of swelling and unnaturally matt, silvery and shimmering arcs uniting the organic with the technological.

Amir Nour was born in 1939 in Shendi, an ancient town in the north of the Sudan, and began his career in the arts at the College for Pure and Applied Art in Khartoum, which at that time had an avant-garde role in furthering and spreading contemporary African art. Though only 24 years old on completing his studies there, he took over the department of sculpture for three years, from 1963-65. He had earlier spent four years in Britain with a grant for the Slade School of Fine Art at London University, and had continued his studies in London at the Royal College of Art. On being awarded a Rockefeller fellowship in 1969, he moved to the USA, where he took an MA at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture. Since 1974 Amir Nour has been living in Chicago by Lake Michigan, working not only as a sculptor but also as an associate professor of art at Truman College at the university.

Nour´s sculptures might rather be called form-arrangements or installations and are notable for their clearness and serene seriousness. Often immense, they spread throughout rooms or public places and seem stylistically to belong to minimalism, which spread in the mid-60s from the North American east coast to all parts of the world. Simple, straightforward components, often made only by machine, are combined by Nour in such a way as to have a unique aesthetic effect.

The art historian Barthosa Nkurumen wrote about Nour´s works in his contribution to the Encyclopedia of Sculpture, published in Chicago, that in them one senses ´a timelessness transcending the cultural context in which they arose´. Certainly the various influences which have gone into Nour´s works are not easily identified. Equal validity is afforded to the regional and the cosmopolitan, the abstract and the representational, ethnic roots, memory and identity, images seen by the mind´s eye and the things of everyday life, which become something special thanks only to the artist´s hand.

Amir Nour´s oeuvre has gained wide recognition and been honoured with many prizes. In 1996 he was one of the artists who, during the Olympic games in Atlanta, took part there in the ´International Sculpture Exhibition´, where he showed his ´Equation´, a sculpture over 8 metres long. Placed usually in front of the police station in the fourth district of Chicago, it was flown to Atlanta in a plane hired especially for this purpose.

(Translation: Amir Nour)
Author: Ulrich Clewing

Bio

1939 born in Shendi
studies at the College for Pure and Applied Art in Khartoum
1959-63 studies in London at the Slade School of Fine Art and at the Royal College of Art
1963-65 Head of the Department of Sculpture at the College for Pure and Applied Art in Khartoum
1969 further studies at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture thanks to a Rockefeller Fellowship
Since 1974 teacher at various city colleges in Chicago
Presently associate professor of art at Truman College in Chicago

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

The Short Century

Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa

(18 May 01 - 29 July 01)