Boris Lurie | No (Red and Black) »Feel-Painting-No with Red« | 1963 | Oil (?) on canvas | 56 x 88 cm
© Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA
It was a clear, resounding NO! that enabled Boris Lurie not only to survive the ghetto and concentration camps, but also summed up his attitude to life like no other word. As an adolescent, his family called him “Boris Why?” – the compulsion for scrutinising every situation seemed to be in his blood.
After the Nazi regime and concentration camps, Boris Lurie refused for the rest of his life to suffer in silence with regard to his traumatic experiences. Drawings and painting – his preferred means of expression since childhood days – initially helped him to come to terms with his hellish experiences in the ghetto and concentration camps. 1958 saw Lurie take a decisive step towards tackling his fate and his attitude to life head on by founding the NO!art artist group and becoming its spiritus rector. His NO! – once he had found and articulated it – was fundamental and all-embracing. His artistic strategies were borne of the anger of observers and participants in social processes that paved the way for abuse of power and incapacitation. In an America that was largely depoliticised in the wake of the McCarthy era, the critical voices of the NO!art group were overlooked by the museums and major galleries. The works were too raw, too brutal and too uncouth – to this day, they have lost none of their potential to rattle cages.