SPOTLIGHT ON ART: ALEXANDRE DA CUNHA

MIX (2012) – the original public art on Breaker’s Place.

As we celebrate the completion of Breaker’s Place, we take a closer look at one of the earliest pieces of art on campus and the first outdoor sculpture to grace the campus’s central square, standing proud in front of The Yellow Building.

Brazilian born, London based artist da Cunha (b. 1969) creates sculptures and paintings that play with and distort the concept of the ‘readymade’, inviting us to reconsider our surroundings and the objects we think of as familiar. His interest also lies in the notion of monumentality, the relationship between public and gallery-based sculpture and the transformation of found materials. This specially commissioned permanent work for the site allowed da Cunha to not only continue these investigations but gave the artist an opportunity to explore them within a public context for the first time.

MIX takes the form of a reclaimed concrete mixer drum placed on top of a distinctive concrete plinth - its point of departure stems from the materiality of the site itself and the newly constructed buildings which use concrete as a primary material.

Cunha’s MIX on campus

Cunha’s MIX on campus

MIX will soon be joined by more art on Breaker’s Place

MIX will soon be joined by more art on Breaker’s Place

This use of concrete also reflects on da Cunha’s own Brazilian heritage, a country in which the material has played a significant role in both art and architecture. The sculpture plays with tropes of public art display, but primarily with the relationship between the plinth and object, the former traditionally functioning as support for the work of art. The large concrete plinth standing at 2.5m high becomes equal in presence to the monumentally-sized concrete drum looming above, whilst the drum itself is reclaimed and is coated in red-oxide paint – the coating used to prepare metals for use in building projects.

Its central location and references to construction and changing forms continue to shift as the landscape surrounding it has evolved over the last nine years. MIX will soon be joined by further public sculptures on Breaker’s Place, creating a unique public realm for outdoor art and a new era for this versatile piece of art.

01 February 2021