Berlinde de Bruyckere, 028 (2007), all images courtesy S.M.A.K and © Mirjam Devriendt
Currently on view at S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Belgium is the first mid-career presentation of the ouevre of Berlinde De Bruyckere (1964, Ghent) and the first solo exhibition of her work in Belgium since 2002. Entitled Sculptures & Drawings. 2000-2014, the exhibition is an interwoven series of associations of form and content, presented through the mediums of painting, drawing, and installation art.
Berlinde de Bruyckere, Into One Another V (2011)
De Bruyckere was born in 1964 in Ghent, and gained attention with her 2000 work with five dead horses, In Flanders Fields, a commentary on World War I. Since the 1990’s, many of her works focus on the symbol of blankets as a commentary on warmth, shelter, and of the vulnerable circumstances such as wars that cause people to seek such warmth and shelter. Her works have been exhibited at the 2003 Venice Biennale; Hauser & Wirth, Zurich; La Maison Rouge, Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris; De Pont Foundation for Contemporary Art, TIllburg; and the 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art.
Berlinde de Bruyckere
Nearly one hundred works make up this large-scale exhibition, arranged through a selection process that brings to light the evolution and nuances of her body of work. Earlier works were made in textile and horse skin, which contributed significantly to her international attention. Later, Bruckyere began expanding her materials and approaches, rendering wax sculptures in the form of human bodies that incorporate eerily evocative plant and animal forms.
Berlinde de Bruyckere, Rodt, 6 Januari IV (2012)
Of particular note is the artist’s pivotal work Kreupelhout — Cripplewood (2012-13), which had previously only been seen at the Venice Biennale in 2013. The work is an enormous wax installation, accurately reproducing a vast fallen tree trunk, with additional branches twisted, gnarled and knotted around it, weighed down with sandbags and torn material. The fallen elm tree bears a disturbing resemblance to the muscles, tendons and bones of the human form. The work has been described as “monstrous, melancholic, poetic…[speaking] of death, decay, and dashed dreams.”
Berlinde de Bruyckere, RomeuMyDeer (2010-2011)
De Bruyckere’s drawings also constitute a major part of this exhibition, presenting early sketches and ideas surrounding her compositions. Hung in series in the same rooms as sculptures, the works offer new associations, connecting pieces and aspects of each work. Familiar forms trace themselves through several imaginings, or emerge unexpected in another part of the exhibition. The combination of drafts and final products allow a rarely seen look inside the artist’s creative process, and its gradually shifting, temporal nature.
Berlinde de Bruyckere, Schmerzensmann II (2006)
The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph conceived as an artist’s book, documenting the last 25 years of De Bruyckere’s career, including visual source material from her archives, essays by Emmanuel Alloa, Gary Carrion-Murayari, and Angela Mengoni, and a personal letter to the artist from the artistic director of S.M.A.K., Philippe Van Cauteren.
The current exhibition will continue at S.M.A.K. through February 15th, 2015.
Berlinde de Bruyckere, the wound I (2011-2012)
— E. Baker
Exhibition Page [S.M.A.K.]