Brendan Van Hek: the continual condition


Neon, glass, mirror, metal and acrylic are placed in precarious relationships in Brendan Van Hek’s upcoming exhibition, the continual condition. With each material relying on the other in a show of circular dependence, his sculptural and light forms hint towards what the artist calls “movements and instances.”

Taking its title from a Charles Bukowski poem, the exhibition is an investigation into Van Hek’s curiosity about the overall order (or perhaps disorder) of life.

As he says, “I’m interested in the constant way that things just keep occurring, keep going around, and how one thing just seeps into another: the way things inform each other.”

Through its structure and design, the continual condition draws on this circularity to create purposeful relationships and connections between materials. In bringing his ideas to fruition, Van Hek collaborated with a furniture maker, metalworker and acrylic manufacturer, as well as building on work he did on a residency completed last year at Canberra’s Glassworks.

Yet Van Hek is mostly known for working with light and, in particular, neon. As he says of the medium, “I like that light doesn’t have a fixed point and is subject to a lot of changes around it, such as environmental factors and the time of day.” Van Hek’s interest in light and its fluctuating qualities stems from when he previously lived in Perth. During this time the artist witnessed growing development in the metropolis, and he became interested in the fluro lights seen at industrial sites, as well as the association of neon with the city.

The fluidity of light is mirrored in Van Hek’s installations. In particular, the endlessly looped forms of neon lights materialise the artist’s desire to avoid becoming too specific or finalised with his work or concepts. Instead Van Hek says “the works are about scenarios, but they’re not necessarily fixed to one instance; they’re open and can be applied to different instances.”

In this way the continual condition doesn’t simply present aesthetic relationships, but also gestures towards larger social points. “My work is driven by relations between people,” says Van Hek. “It’s not purely aesthetic for me. It’s about all the layers that appear to us on the surface, but then also those layers that go beneath the surface.”

Brendan van Hek has been living in Berlin, and will undertake a month-long residency in Perth supported by Turner Art Angels.

the continual condition
Brendan Van Hek
Turner Galleries
23 June – 22 July

Preview Words by Tiarney Miekus