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17.05 -

Opening: 17.05.24 | 6 - 9 pm

04.07.24 | 7 pm
Soundperformance by Nils Nova

Finissage: 12.07.24 | 6 - 9 pm

(exhibition extended till 25.07.)


Open hours: Fri. 14 - 19 Uhr, Sa. 14 -17 Uhr
or by appointment 

Even before we enter the KALI Gallery, we encounter its distorted image. Afterimages, memories, shadows. The artist Nils Nova (*1968) expands the real space with an imaginary doppelganger. A trickster who confuses the order and transforms the world into an ambivalent place. The exhibition ‹Schatten Wandel› shows room-specific installations and new acrylic paintings, which are often both abstract and representational. Nova also reveals his political side without moralizing. His paintings thus remain open to various interpretations.


Nova’s expansive photographic wallpapers use the realism of photography to create illusions in the tradition of trompe-l’œil, which are immediately destroyed by the distortion of perspective. The self-deconstruction reveals the construction of reality. How does our inner image of space come about? What happens when we move as a body in space? Objects can be viewed from an infinite number of perspectives, but the perspective adopted in each case obscures all others – a continuous shadowing.


The interference between the real and the imaginary also creates an irritation of time consciousness. The past collides with the present. Time is not a straight line on which the now progresses uniformly as an inextensible point. It is a courtyard of time with primordial impressions at its center, from which retentive memories and anticipatory expectations emanate. Ecstasies that form an original field of time in constant flux – a turbulent flow of time.

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A black square draws us in from afar. But the large-format image in the photo turns out to be a small-format canvas on the wallpaper. The reduced space of the photo makes ‹Dark River› appear larger. From close up, we recognize a river-like structure under the black layer of paint. Malevich’s ‹Black Square› stands as the zero point of abstraction with one foot in modernity and the other in the subterranean stream of tradition. The emancipation from representation corresponds to the spiritual striving for transcendence. The aim of freeing art from the weight of things and evoking a sense of non-objectivity resonates with the mysticism of silence. The icon of art hung like a religious icon in «Herrgottswinkel».

Behind the white veil, we recognize a pyramid with a raised top. The triangle is the simplest figure on the plane and the occult symbol of God’s Eye of Providence. As if through a window to reality, we see in ‹Pyramids› the Divine Order, the universal Hierarchy (old gr. hieros, sacred, arché, rule) of power: many below, few above, one above all. The pyramid can be found on the coat of arms of El Salvador, the birthplace of Nils Nova, as well as on the reverse of the one-dollar bill. «NOVUS ORDO SECLO-RUM» (New Order of the Ages) is proclaimed on the latter, giving rise to many conspiracy theories that purport to lift the curtain on the backrooms of power while making it even more opaque, murky and dark.

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The threshold to the interior is doubled by a threshold that is both visible and invisible. ‹Nose› shows horizontally and vertically symmetrically mirrored shapes in green and blue with clear brushstrokes. The upper half is larger, so that a horizon is created and orientation becomes possible. The abstract picture has a figurative reference: the Nas strait in Lake Lucerne, which formed the entrance to the Reduit during the Second World War as the «Nas sea barrier». The Upper Nas can be seen on the left and the Lower Nas, where the Bürgenstock Resort is located, on the right.


The reference to the outside world on ‹Down & Up of a System› is also only apparent at second glance. The black mountain behind which the sun has set (or will rise again), so that it is surrounded by a luminous aura and the sky flares up red, is the head of the almost religiously revered Mao Zedong. An allusion to the Cold War, in which the system alternatives competed with each other.

But the dream is over. There is no longer an alternative. What remains is the neoliberal meritocracy, in which the entrepreneurial self is subject to permanent optimization. We are constantly exposed to the stress of having to experience something. ‹Action› and ‹Reaction› are again more typical for Nova: color field paintings, glowing gas clouds in space after supernova explosions, inner afterimages with closed eyes or strong feelings. But the intense life also has its downsides. At the end of the day, as in ‹Transformation›, we swap the glowing orange outfit for the dark blue cloak of night, turn away from the Burnout Society and, as in ‹Dream›, perhaps dream of another life.

Finally, the last picture is the key image of ‹Schatten Wandel›. ‹Projection Surface› looks like an inner landscape as in Dürer’s ‹Traumgesicht›. Dark, agitated clouds, reminiscent of Goya’s etchings, but also of John Martin’s apocalyptic paintings, testify to a pessimistic, but not hopeless mood. A blue sphere, which could have sprung from Bosch’s ‹Garden of Earthly Delights›, withstands the storm blowing from paradise. As in Turner’s ‹Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbor’s Mouth›, the soul steers confidently through the sea stirred up by the winds of the world, unshakably preserving the dream of freedom and infinite expanses.


The circle closes. With his current works in ‹Schatten Wandel›, Nils Nova succeeds in connecting to older works. With somnambulistic certainty, he succeeds in using minimal information and abstract forms to refer to concrete objects and moods of the zeitgeist. Art as a school for the tolerance of ambiguity. - Michel Rebosura

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