The Venice Questionnaire #13: Berlinde De Bruyckere
Vanwege een Tere Huid III and IV, (2016) two monumental sculptures of metal pallets with stacked animal hides (made from wax, polyester, and iron). The initial sculptural form of these works is inspired by observations of the processing of animal hides in a slaughterhouse. De Bruyckere used however a colour palette that replaced sense of the animal hides by that of human skin. And through the sculptural process the layers of skins start suggesting a presence of bodily forms. It brings to mind a landscape of people piled up and molten into each other. Although the image is dark and apocalyptic De Bruyckere speaks of a dying together opposed to a lonely death. It suggests through all the violence, the loss and pain a spark of hope.
Courtesy of the Artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana
Berlinde De Bruyckere’s sculptures are figural and disfigured; her anatomically detailed animal and human forms lack certain appendages or—more often—heads, to disturbing effect. De Bruyckere believes the particular presence or absence of a head is irrelevant because “the figure as a whole is a mental state.” The artist, who had a gory childhood fascination with Lucas Cranach the Elder, began her career in the 1990s and was immediately drawn to figurative works. In her earliest pieces, De Bruyckere used woolen blankets and furniture as her primary materials, purposefully suggesting the absence of the human body. Her later works replicate, exaggerate, and fictionalize bodies, most iconically featuring horses on platforms or in vitrines, and human figures partially transformed into branches.
Belgian, b. 1964, Ghent, Belgium, based in Ghent, Belgium