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Broken Open

An exploration of the body as a resource.
The works in this exhibition are messy. The perfection of formalism is nowhere in sight. From Bianca Beck’s rough hewn papier-mâché surfaces, to Joy Curtis’s tattered fabrics, to Jennie Jiuen Lee’s pours of glaze across her ceramic busts, to Brie Ruais’s expansive stretched clay, and to Aparna Sarkar’s scratched canvas, the markers of expression are ever present. The works are steeped in each artist's personal history as themes of gender, identity, and sexuality serve as guideposts from which they excavate. The body is messy as well; to inhabit one is a complex proposition made even more complex by the systems that try to define it. As the title implies, each artist has broken open their own systems of being. They are exploring the uncharted possibility of what it means to possess a physical form solely unto themselves.
Broken Open Bianca Beck Untitled » MONA Portsmouth


(B. 1979)
Beck's work begins with the body: from the imagined internal spaces of veins and organs to the dynamics of identity and expression, their large-scale sculptures evoke a single colossal a figure. They push symbolic and transgressive dimensions of texture, form, and color. When installed as a collective, Beck's sculptures transcend the human scale as if being psychically amplified by its potential, love, pride, and power to connect.
Wood, wire, papier-mâché, acrylic and oil
108 x39 x 19 inches
Broken Open Joy Curtis Atlas » MONA Portsmouth


(B. 1976)
Joy’s anthropomorphic sculptures are created from hand-dyed canvas, commercially printed fabrics, and cast bronze. Curtis’ skeletal forms reference corsets, medieval dress and other ways in which clothing have confined and defined the way a women’s body is experienced. Appearing structurally improbable, Curtis’ sculptures call into question the difference between what the mind’s eye desires, and how bringing the object of desire into physicality and into time inevitably challenges this perfect image.
ATLAS, 2019
Glazed stoneware, hardware, rocks, 
Madder-dyed cotton duck and rope, 
wool, copper beads, grommets and steel
92 x 29 × 16 inches
Broken Open Jennie Jieun Lee Hell on Earth » MONA Portsmouth


(B. 1973)
In Lee’s paintings, masks, and busts one can barely distinguish the faces of her ceramic counterparts. This ambiguity references the many distortions, misperceptions and facades of the self. Through sculpting, embossing, printing, painting, and drawing, Lee recontextualizes the classic form of the body (or vessel) and creates a psychosomatic expression of the past. Layered glazes, drips, and pours borrow from painting while the energy captured in the works speak to the artist’s personal investment in the material which feels transformed as if through catharsis.
Glazed porcelain, flashé, oil, wood, resin
60 × 40 × 5 inches
Broken Open Brie Ruais Destruction and Discovery » MONA Portsmouth


(B. 1982)
Each of Ruais’s sculptures begins with 130 pounds of clay—the artist’s body weight—that are then shaped by and embedded with Ruais’s movements: spreading out, pushing, tearing open, and scraping away. In exploring themes of embodiment, Ruais’s work further reflects upon the relationship between an individual's psychical interior world and the corporeal exterior world.
Glazed stoneware, hardware, rocks
Courtesy of the artist and Albertz Benda, New York
97 × 87 1/2 x 3 inches
Broken Open Aparna Sarkar Res Studio 11.3 » MONA Portsmouth


(B. 1992)
Sarkar explores the othered body and hybrid identity through mythological paintings and drawings. In her paintings, abstracted bodies collide with shapes and residues in otherworldly spaces to form a queer, diasporic mythology. Sarkar explains that these “bodies are slick, crusty, diaphanous, partial, chunky, other—they vary in legibility, suspended in emergence and expulsion from the environment. Multiple selves make these works. At times I search for the painting through my body: I press, rub, and scratch, my actions becoming form events. Still a fourth self renders and excavates the mythic bodily forms, made not born, who dive through, push, and hold up the paintings.”
RES STUDIO 11.3, 2020
Oil on canvas
7 x 5 inches