Custot Gallery - Arnaud Rivieren 'Natural Sublime' / Nick Brandt 'The Day May Break'

Martyn White

Posted on November 22 2021

Custot Gallery presents two exhibitions 'Natural Sublime' by sculptor Arnaud Rivieren and 'The Day May Break' by photographer Nick Brandt.

Dubai-based Custot Gallery presents two fascinating exhibitions; Arnaud Rivieren's sculptural works entitled 'Natural Sublime', and Nick Brandt's haunting photographic showcase 'The Day May Break'.

Arnaud Rivieren Natural Sublime Custot Gallery DubaiArnaud Rivieren Natural Sublime Custot Gallery DubaiArnaud Rivieren Natural Sublime Custot Gallery Dubai

Arnaud Rivieren: 'Natural Sublime'

The first solo show by Dubai-based Belgian sculptor Arnaud Rivieren. Entitled Natural Sublime, the exhibition presents three new bodies of work that deepen the artist’s engagement with representing our natural world through painstakingly precise industrial techniques. 

Increasingly known for his series of oversized fruits and vegetables in reflective stainless-steel, Rivieren has built his practice on the twin pillars of respect for nature—by monumentalizing not only fruits and vegetables, but stones and trees—and an extreme attention to the shapes within the non-human realm.

Swollen to a scale that obliges viewers to assess their own physical presence in the gallery, the fruits and vegetables render nature’s structural complexity. We sense the hidden geometric intricacy of works like the fig sculpture Tyn (2021), the subtle joint-like fixture of the cherry sculptures Karaz (2021), and the curvy regularity of the oversized capsicum Felfel (2021). The works’ smooth reflective surfaces make an encounter with them oddly intimate, as they mirror the gaze back. While each specimen captures a perfect, almost archetypal form of the fruit, such as the shapely apple of Touffaha Hamra (2021), each work bears idiosyncrasies—surface pocks, textural patches, a defiant stem—that distinguish them individually. The play of perishable fruits created in corrosion resistant stainless-steel is emblematic of Rivieren’s sensitive wit.

Erratics, a series of large and mid-size stones and rocks, sculpted in a darker, less reflective grade of steel, evokes the ancient boulders that have been transported by glaciers and deposited into regions where they differ from native rocks in both scale and composition. Like the fruits and vegetables, the Erratics invite touch and provoke an unusual connection with the viewer. But they are graver, as if their tale were more solemn: they ask us to reckon with them, to stand still and be silent. They are an homage to the truly eternal.

Equally monumental, Rivieren’s series of trees freeze-frames a moment in a long-life cycle. The three works—Oak (2020), Ghaf (2021), and Maritime Pine (2021)—hold nothing extraneous: the architecture of the tree alone matters, and each transmits its unique tangle of life, from trunk to crown. Of all the works in Natural Sublime, these are the least intimate, yet they are the most emphatic. Here, the artist’s deep respect of nature converges with his mastery of both material and technique.

Nick Brandt  The Day May Break Custot Gallery DubaiNick Brandt  The Day May Break Custot Gallery Dubai
Nick Brandt  The Day May Break Custot Gallery Dubai

Nick Brandt: 'The Day May Break'

An exhibition of new works photographed in Zimbabwe and Kenya in late 2020. It is the first part of a global series portraying people and animals that have been impacted by environmental degradation and destruction.

The people in the photos have all been badly affected by climate change - some displaced by cyclones that destroyed their homes, others such as farmers displaced and impoverished by years-long severe droughts.The photographs were taken at five sanctuaries/ conservancies. The animals are almost all long-term rescues, victims of everything from the poaching of their parents, to habitat destruction and poisoning.

The fog is the unifying visual. We increasingly find ourselves in a kind of limbo, a once-recognizable world now fading from view. Created by fog machines on location, this often renders the animals almost a dream, or a memory of what the people once experienced in their lives. It is also an echo of the suffocating smoke from the wildfires, driven by climate change, devastating so much of the planet. 

However, in spite of their loss, these people and animals are the survivors. And therein lies possibility and hope. 

For more information on current and past exhibitions, represented artists and events, click to view the official Custot Gallery website. 

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