A gigantic pencil in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
A gigantic pencil in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium

From July 9, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium present a 5 meters long pencil broken in two, hanging from the entrance hall ceiling. The installation, created by the young Belgian artist Nicolas de Meeûs, illustrates how an artistic creation is directly linked to its context and to current events.

A gigantic pencil in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium

From July 9, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium present a 5 meters long pencil broken in two, hanging from the entrance hall ceiling. The installation, created by the young Belgian artist Nicolas de Meeûs, illustrates how an artistic creation is directly linked to its context and to current events.

Started in 2009 and finished in January 2015, the Pencil project took on a whole new meaning in the light of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy.

The story of the Pencil: May 2009. A sequoia tree has fallen down in the garden near Nicolas de Meeûs’s workshop. The tree snapped in half leaves a lasting impression on Nicolas: that of a broken pencil.

September 2013, the wood has dried. Seeking to give shape to this image, he starts trimming, sawing and sanding to change the tree trunk into a huge pencil, 5 meters long by 50 cm wide. Finally, the graphite lead he inserts will give the work its finishing touch on January 8, 2015.

The Pencil initially questions the representation by the mind in a space between reality and imagination. However, History shook up this first interpretation and gave it a new dimension after the tragic events of January 7. The collective feeling of “freedom of speech” suddenly added a sociological and political message to the work.

Nowadays, the broken pencil embodies the emotions of millions of people; it has become a symbol, an icon.

Dialogue: All of a sudden “dispossessed” of his own work, the artist wanted to share this feeling with those around him and eventually decided to write to the RMFAB. Moved by his letter, the management of the Museums invited Nicolas de Meeûs to share his story. A joint reflection led to the installation of the Pencil in the RMFAB’s entrance hall. The purpose is to share with the public this original creation which highlights exchanges between art and current events.

The dialogue will be open until January 11, 2016 – symbolic date marking the first anniversary of the collective expressions of support. 

Nicolas de Meeûs: My work questions the representation by the mind in a space between reality and imagination. The hours of sanding will reveal that the Pencil is a reality designating will, desire and dreams and that the rupture is also the heart of a matter, full and empty in its rough state.

The broken pencil becomes obvious to the artist: This broken object expresses the silence of possibilities because observing it generates an automatic “repair work” by the spirit. It reflects the uniqueness of our respective hopes and expectations. While being stuck in its present order, there is still room for a ‘before’ and ‘after’ the break. 

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Image of the Day

Yves Klein, IKB Godet, 1958, dry pigment, synthetic resin on gauze on panel. Private collection. ©Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

Yves Klein, IKB Godet, 1958, dry pigment, synthetic resin on gauze on panel. Private collection. ©Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

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