D.M. Nagu is the final of three artists Frisur have invited to collaborate on exploring the potential of this season’s conceptual object. “Untitled” is a stack of 8 notebooks that embody the minimal aesthetic of FRISUR. They are designed to give complete freedom to the user through their simple staple binding, quality Munken paper and the omission of a cover or page markings.
D.M. Nagu’s scholary background in language and literature influences his conceptual collage work; a surprisingly fitting combination of different forms of expression. His interest in the history and culture of objects, textures and colours informs his choice of material which he meticulously dissects and re-assembles, telling his own stories through the creation (rather than filling) of voids. Isolating specific elements and combining them with a sensitive eye, Nagu’s work is minimal in form yet rich in content. Each piece telling a story or exploring an emotion.
For the collaboration D.M. Nagu has created a whole series of new works under the title “Moods und Muster”, referencing the mood book as much as the “Musterbuch”. Each book carries its own title: 1. Francobolli, 2. Dresden, 3. Patrick, 4. ’78, 5. Kyrgyzstan, 6. Handarbeit, 7. Blank, 8. Freestyle.
Can you explain to me how you got into making art? Where did it start?
I have been interested in art for a long time and started to exhibit my own collage work about three years ago. My professional background is in language and literature, but my focus has shifted over the years. These days, I enjoy writing a text as much as I do creating a collage. In a broader sense, I see both activities as different forms of translating ideas into something that can serve as a means of communication.
And if you look at your work today, how have things changed since the beginning?
I think I am becoming increasingly rigorous with my work, but I also allow myself more liberties these days.
So we invited you to use the “Untitled” notebooks as a part of your creative process, how was that? Could you talk us through what you’ve done in the notebooks and how that relates to your work?
Being bound by rules and regulations works as a catalyst for my creative process; and I sincerely believe in cross-cultural exchange. Being asked to respond to a line of clothing made me think about the whole process of designing, producing and presenting fashion. I am very interested in the quality of the materials I work with, but I have a longstanding fascination for textiles in particular, and, being a knitter myself, I’m curious about creating clothing from a thread of yarn. I see this as not dissimilar to creating a collage from seemingly ‘meaningless’ pieces of paper. The way that FRISUR uses very small images in its line-sheet also got me thinking about miniature images such as stamps – the first book responds to that. But I knew I had to downsize the original notebook to get a format that was more suitable for my purposes; and I added a layer of even smaller catalogue cards to support the collages and frame them.
The pieces are made from eight sets of different materials. After having started with paper from used envelopes, I continued to work with material from books which I liked for their colour schemes and which had a strong focus on textiles. For example, the Kyrgyzstan series is made from a book on traditional jewellery that’s photographed on sumptuous cloth and laid out on glossy black paper. One of my initial ideas was to imitate what I imagine the research that a fashion designer has to make in order to develop the range of colours for a new collection would be; and I tried to do something similar by sticking to material from a single source for each book, thereby re-inventing more or less unintentional colour schemes.
I mostly make minimal collages, using only two to four elements. While they’re often about form and composition, many have a critical or more narrative character. But I also love producing something beautiful, and these series allowed me to put more philosophical or critical concerns aside and to engage more directly with beauty. All collages are glued on old catalogue cards, which were chosen as much for their convenient size as for the richness of the cardboard and the writing on them. After I exhausted the material, I chose twelve cards for each series to go into the downsized notebooks. So, for me, they are mood books as much as Musterbücher (sample books).
Last of all, what are your favourite pieces of the collection?
My favourite piece has got to be the knitted JEPPE jumper, and not only because of its name. I usually find geometrical patterns on jumpers quite tricky, but because of the gentle material and the dark’n’mellow colour scheme, this piece has a surprisingly natural feel to it. I also like the black velvet HANS jumper and striped JAKOB trousers.