by Alain Elkan
Why did Barbara Nahmad feel the need to portrait the faces of some remarkable protagonists of our late past, if nowadays we are living in a world of photographic images picturing such faces in so many different situations, that these faces are known to everybody? In the second half of the 20th century Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente and Lucian Freud-
Let's mention, for example, an eclectic artist such as Jean Cocteau who, being friend of many other artists and being his attitude similar to the one of Narcissus, was portrayed throughout a short period by Picasso, Modigliani and Kisling and later on pictured by Man Ray and Brassai. Cocteau, always looking the same, was portrayed by each artist in a very recognizable way.
Similar to this, Barbara Nahmad is testing herself, her art, her evident style, her portraits -
It is amazing to go through a series of portraits displayed next to each other describing faces and periods in which some characters, Barbara never met, had been living.
BARBARA NAHMAD: THE INNER PORTRAIT
by Arturo Schwarz
For Sanskrit poetry the identification with models is absolutely necessary in case you want to faithfully mirror them. And Plotinus’s remark states: “the eyes could never see the sun if they did not contain the sun already”. Barbara Nahmad’s ability to perceive the essence of her models derives from her ability to identify herself with them. It is obvious that this identification is more easily achieved when models belong to the artist’s same gender. This is the reason why her feminine portraits have, such a poetic and emotional weight. Her overwhelming presence – I would say even complicity – is able to let the inner transfer of models to be perceived even in case subjects are men.
The XVII century theosophist, Jacob Böhme, maintained: “The outer visible world is an image of the spiritual inner world”. Barbara Nahmad’s portraits shed such an intense aura of truth because the artist focuses on foreground set faces – better reflecting her characters’ psychology – whereas bodies, not revealing so much, are practically denied. Our painter is able to interpret and understand one-
It is also necessary to remember that Barbara Nahmad’d portraits are the results of a creative reaction caused by the vision of her characters together with a (visual and mental) consideration of them. These portraits show a detail that reminds us of the consideration made by Duchamp concerning Readymade. Barbara’s paintings are not made out of a direct vision of models: it is a second-
Barbara sees painting as a mix of presence, subjects and up to date events. It should be able to absorb – still preserving painting tradition, too often completely neglected nowadays – the new technological media that actually seem to be the new reality. Her portraits of public people still remain the portraits of individuals, i.e. a representation trying to disclose the human and empty nature of appearance. Barbara shows and identifies, in these characters’ personality, one of the reasons why they are still fascinating and why people still identify themselves with the heroes they will eventually embody. Barbara keeps on collecting magazines such as Life, Epoca or Paris Match, because these represent the sources of her images, filtered by a reporter’s oriented attitude that fixed them in order to respond to the needs of the editing market.
All the characters Barbara chooses for her portraits represent the positive heroes that our age deserves. They carry the burden of their time and, sometimes, the tragedy of their destiny. They somehow represent an open mind attitude, a moral quality and modernity able to defeat the unrestrained consumerism of our society. The Greek word aletheia generally translated as “truth”, has rather the meaning of “unveil” (a-
by Maurizio Sciaccaluga
Edson Arantes do Nascimento is known by everybody as Pelè and O rei. The Brazilians see him as the Pan de Azucar, the blessing Christ, samba, and the Carnival in Rio. The Italians see him as their biggest defeat, the matador, the unforgettable souvenir of four goals received. Even if Santos – a myth team of south American football, similar to our ‘Grande Torino’, to Genoa football team founded by the English, to the pre-
Ernesto Guevara -
Moana Pozzi, known by some people as Fantastica Moana, is for everybody: Moana. She is the queen of made in Italy porno movies, but also the woman that was brought onto the catwalk by a stylist in 1993, who maintained that: “Women want to move like Moana, not like top models”. She stands as an undoubtedly profane but partially sacred love, for that kind of shining beauty, that belief, that unique purity in the history of hard-