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NOMA BAR | 'WHICH CAME FIRST?'
October 16th 2019
The work of Noma Bar could be described as visual story-telling. The deceptively simple works by this contemporary artist challenges the viewers to uncover the hidden messages within them. How we decode the visual clues that Bar is presenting, relies only on his pared-back forms, careful composition, and the clever illusionary effects of positive and negative space. Bar’s simplistic aesthetic style, or his limited colour palette, should not deceive us, because in this artist’s work there is always more than meets the eye.
by Tessa Yee
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
Israeli-born and London-based since 2000, Noma Bar has established a successful career as both fine artist and illustrator. His early studies in illustration and commercial work in the design industry is certainly evident in the skilful way Bar can convey messages through simple visual cues or as the artist describes: ‘maximum communication with minimum elements’.

Alongside the communicative powers of Noma Bar’s work are the artistic ones. The artist’s beautiful minimalist designs are presented through unassuming flowing forms and a careful choice of palette. His style reflects the early 20th century Russian constructivists whose simple but impactful images were designed to convey the strong political messages of the time - and in the years to come the constructivists influenced major trends including the German Bauhaus movement. The effects of this new practice spilled into all parts of society, including architecture, sculpture, industrial - and graphic design, and still present today.

Aesthetically we can recognise the thoughtfully composed bold flat planes of colour reminiscent of abstract artists such as Malevich and Mondrian; the later well-known for his black-grid-based paintings with blocks of red, blue and yellow. Yet, in his own distinct way, Bar does not completely abstract his artworks - instead breaking down his images to their simplest form, near abstract but importantly, still recognisable.

By creating images that can be read through both the positive and the negative space, Bar is in fact incorporating multiple images into one and some may initially see something quite different from one another. It can take some time to find all the hidden images in Bar’s work, but once that time is spent to decipher them, the clever logic and often poignant message falls into place quite naturally.
NOMA BAR
Which Came First, 2013

Edition of 15
2 Artist Proof (APs)

95(w) x 127(h) cm
37.40(w) x 50.00(h) inches
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Noma Bar (Israeli, b. 1973)
95(w) x 127(h) cm
37.40(w) x 50.00(h) inches
Screenprint on 410gsm Somerset Satin with hand embossing and hand torn edge.

Signed and numbered by the artist on front.
Edition of 15
PRICE
$ 2,415.00 Only 1 left at this price
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A perfect example of this is Bar’s print edition Which came first? - a work that, in true Noma Bar style, hides several visual elements within one simple composition. When brought together the elements convey a message that can provoke conversation, deeper thought, or simply bring a smile to your face.

When looking at this image what do you see first? Is it the black outline of a rooster - an image reinforced by the shining red eyes and the characteristic comb on its head? Or is your eye more instinctively drawn to the large white question mark dominating the centre of the image? Once both elements are recognised, it is almost impossible to stop your eyes from switching back and forth between them. And there is one more hidden element that might take a bit longer to comprehend. The unmistakable shape of an egg is cleverly disguised by the point of the question mark and this is Bar’s final visual clue. Along with the title Which came first? it completes the message that the artist is conveying.

‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ is a philosophical conundrum that has puzzled human beings since it was first posed by Plutarch, a Greek writer, in the 1st century AD. The question, which is familiar to most of us today, is used in philosophical terms, as a metaphor for everyday dilemmas where it is unclear which of two events should be considered the cause, and which the effect. Its long history has meant this question is now a common saying not just within the world of philosophy, but in everyday life. We can all relate to and understand this question, and it is with that knowledge that Bar is able to utilise such simple imagery.

The print edition, Which came first? was released in collaboration with Noma Bar in 2013 and is an edition of 15. Each work has been printed by hand and finished with added details that bring out the surface texture of the paper. This is seen in the glossy red areas of the print that are presented in ever so slightly higher relief and achieved through hand-embossing. They contrast with the large areas of flat matted charcoal, an effect created by mixing a small amount of silver in with the black ink. With an appearance almost like sandpaper, this textured surface is extremely delicate and acts as a stark contrast to the varnished red areas it sits next to. The large format of this print works to enhance its visual impact and as with all of Bar’s works, we are at first confronted with puzzles, but always given a satisfying answer.

Your can find more information about Noma Bar and the print edition, Which came first?, on the artist page here.
 
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