Exhibition: October 2nd – November 15th
Artist talk: October 3rd, 5.30 pm
The exhibition, ‘The Stonebreakers’ is a reference to the 1849 Realist painting by French artist Gustave Courbet depicting two peasants a father and a son labouring on the side of a road breaking rocks. ‘The Stonebreakers’ by Courbet, a huge monumental work, shows the harsh often brutal reality that the peasant class faced at the time. By choosing them as his subject matter, Courbet elevates the peasants to that of an equal status alongside the upper ruling classes, previously the sole subject matter of such paintings. This is a Social Realist work, where Courbet uplifts the status of the everyday people during a time when the ruling class feared the potential power of the peasantry.
Deeply connected to the social and political context of the time Courbet’s Stonebreakers’ depicted not only a shift but the breaking down of the status quo. We too now find ourselves amidst such a shift with events such as The Arab Spring and social and political movements gaining momentum all around the world. It is the idea of inter-connectedness where social media with in today’s digital age is proving to be the vehicle for social and political change.
Using binary numbers 1 and 0 as ‘building blocks’ of form in my work, I use binary code as a metaphorical language, which reflects this digital context. Binary code also represents data, information and meaning collected and stored from society. This information not only forms the basis of our ideas and beliefs but also the social and political structures that we subsequently build from them. The idea of potential therefore forms a cornerstone to the exhibition. Binary code as a system depends on how the numbers 1 and 0 are arranged, however the numbers can continually be shifted, re-arranged to form new meanings. The potential for change is ever present. The idea of chaos and order is also present in this change as represented in the work ‘When The Dust Settles’. A giant pile of binary numbers, the chaotic aftermath of a fallen structure or the building blocks of a new structure waiting to be built, both possibilities exist. This metaphor of ‘a pile’ suggests a temporary identity; its existence is only there as something transient. It is up to us to decide what becomes of it.
Every action towards change requires a release of energy or force as the three works depicting volcanic explosions suggest in ‘The Stonebreakers’. A paradox of not only destruction, a volcano also has the ability to ‘construct’. This idea of binary forces, co-existing and feeding each other in a metaphorical language of progress and opposition is also relevant as we seek to build new realities from the resulting chaos of fallen structures.
Binary code essentially is a system of logic yet ‘The Stonebreakers’ takes this ‘logical system’ and makes it completely illogical. Never are the numbers coded, they exist forever in that transient moment between fixed states. They remain open, ambiguous spaces where the unknown is forever present. This is seen in the three abstract works of ‘The Stonebreakers’. Like doorways or openings they ‘break through’ the 2-dimensional space, inviting the viewer in.
‘The Stonebreakers’ alludes to the idea that nothing can remain static. Systems, structures, ideas, beliefs, all must remain open and dynamic ready to be questioned, evolved and re-built, a dynamic state of change where nothing is set in stone.
Nicky Broekhuysen was born in 1981 in South Africa. In 2004 she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Auckland University. For the next 2,5 years she baed herself in Shangai, China followed by a move to Berlin in 2008 where she currently lives and continues to exhibit.
2013 ‘Potency Filled Things’ Dittrich Und Schlechtriem Gallery, Berlin
2012 Solo Presentation in the Signature Section – Art Abu Dhabi, Waterhouse & Dodd Gallery
2012 ‘Shifting Knowledge’ WhatIfTheWorld Gallery, Cape Town
2011 “Between States, Into Light”, pool gallery, Berlin
2011 VOLTA NY Art Fair, pool gallery, Berlin, Germany
2010 “State of Flux”, Artport Contemporary, Berlin, Germany
2009 “Do Over”, AFTHotw… Gallery, Berlin, Germany
2007 “Urban Crust”, Stir Art Gallery, Shanghai, China
2007 “Categorizing the Lost Pieces”, the studio, Shanghai, China