Galerie Gabriel Rolt is proud to present Don't Sleep On Your Moon, an exhibition of new work by Amsterdam-based artist Nik Christensen. Christensen's fourth solo exhibition at the gallery will run from Saturday March 8th through April 12th.
Christensen creates his trademark sumi ink works on paper. These rambling, often larger-than-life pieces contain haunting imagery that straddles the line between the natural and the artificial, the organic and the mechanized, by interspersing intuitive strokes with pixel-like building blocks. It's a tightrope-balancing act, which Christensen has made even more explicit for the forthcoming exhibition, juxtaposing man and nature, society and isolation both in his methods and in his imagery.
Case in point is the title piece Don't Sleep On Your Moon. This almost two by three metres monochrome displays a group of men sitting at the waterfront in a forest, surrounded by piles of books. The ordered piles behind the men are contrasted by a chaotic heap of books in front of them, just as the wild outgrowths of the forest and its reflection in the water are interspersed with pixel-like blocks of blacks and greys. These ambivalences create an atmosphere of enlightenment amidst wilderness, like a group of post-apocalyptic, survivalist intellectuals sorting through the last remnants of human knowledge.
Ostensibly more light-footed in theme and imagery is Tomorrow Right Now, another large piece displaying a procession of festive men and women, carrying a guitar-playing figure adorned with a multitude of hats. Yet despite the tongue-in-cheek details and the playful procession itself, doubt will soon be creeping in. Why is that long line of cheering figures with arms raised in triumph preceded by despondent carriers with clothes like ribcages? Something's off, and that eerie feeling is enhanced by the wild mountains in the background, alternating rock-like formations with horizontal and vertical stripes.
Man and nature are once again juxtaposed in the somewhat smaller All I Ever Really Wanted Was A Jungle, And A Jungle I Got. We see a painter working amongst a multitude of plants and flowers drawn in greys and whites that transcend their monochromatic nature, suggesting a carnival of colours and smells. But the arrangement of these florid surroundings, as well as the parasols towering over them, are distinctly artificial. The scene reminds one of the neurotic nobleman in Joris-Karl Huysmans' famous essay À Rebours, who flees the pragmatism and productivity of modern Paris to take refuge in a hermitage where he creates an entirely artificial world devoid of both humans and nature. Like the misanthropic count, the depicted painter is working in 'splendid isolation', creating art out of artificiality and in the process rendering authenticity to the spurious.
Frantic, kaleidoscopic, enigmatic, disruptive - Christensen's works leave the viewer dazzled and dazed, yet at pains to pinpoint what exactly makes these works so eerily unsettling.
Nik Christensen (1973, Kent, UK) graduated from the Rietveld Academie in 2000 and lives and works in Amsterdam. He has had exhibitions at major Dutch museums such as the Teylers museum in Haarlem and the Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam, as well as myriad international galleries. His work is part of important private and corporate collections, including those of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, the Dutch central bank DNB, Gilissen Bankers and many international private collections. Major publications include Vitamin D2 International Drawing Anthology at Phaidon Books, Elephant Magazine and the monograph 'On the Inside of Jokes'.
For more information: www.gabrielrolt.com