Berlinde De Bruyckere, Into One-Another I To P.P.P. (2010). All images via Hauser & Wirth
Berlinde De Bruyckere does not hold back when it comes to her art. The human form in her exhibition “Into One-Another To P.P.P.” at Hauser & Wirth is exposed in a series of sculptures expertly rendered in wax. Through experimentation with individuality and mortality, De Bruyckere draws the viewer into her sculptures’ struggle. Also on display are a number of recent works on paper done in watercolor and ink. The exhibition is dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italian filmmaker, painter, and poet.
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De Bruyckere has drawn on Pasolini’s artistic portrayals, which were often graphic and disturbing, much in the way her fragmented sculptures are. Three sculptures, all named as numbered variations to the exhibition’s title, stand as the centerpiece of the show. De Bruyckere’s figures draw from professional dancers she hired to act as models. The partial bodies are eerily realistic, despite the missing heads and limbs, and the blending incompletion of some features. Interspersed with red marks, the pale tone of the wax gives the sculptures a sickly pallor. Combined with ragged openings and surreal folds in the skin, the color calls to mind corpses. This is particularly true in Into One-Another I To P.P.P., where the shape of a woman’s body on its side looks at rest but for the missing head and the gash running down her side for the entire length of her torso. De Bruyckere often leaves out heads or facial features in her pieces, leaving an unsettling feeling of impersonality.
Despite the deathly composition and the absence of a face, the sculptures have a fierce liveliness to their poses, and a strong individuality to their bodies. In Into One-Another III To P.P.P., two forms intersect each other, their torsos combining with outward signs of struggle. Whether the frozen moment is of union or separation isn’t clear, but that uncertainty only serves to heighten the tension in the piece’s motion. Though many parts of the sculpture’s bodies are blurred and left off, some sections are vividly human. The feet and toes of the woman in Into One-Another I To P.P.P. are crafted to include the smallest wrinkle in the skin. The shoulders rising up in Into One-Another III To P.P.P. strain with a human vitality underneath the wax.
In a step away from the expected human form, Inside Me II splays out across rough fabric slung between sawhorses, a string of wax sculptures rendered to resemble intestines. The display of innards as a sculpture among the other human forms highlights their sense of anonymity, for men are not recognizable only by their guts. Though the other three sculptures give a sense of vulnerability and exposure, none is as opened up as Inside Me II, which serves to highlight the theme of mortality in the exhibition.
De Bruyckere’s paper works give the viewers some insight into how she views the human form before drawing it out of her sculpting materials. These ink and watercolor pieces depict forms with vaguely recognizable human sections, but cast in sections and posed so that enough is left unknown for the images to have an unsettling quality. As in her sculptures, the figures have no face.
Exhibition page [Hauser & Wirth]