Belgian artist Berlinde De Brucykere’s (1964) bitter-sweet images unite pain and suffering with a strong aesthetic appeal. Her installations of equine and human bodies evoke feelings of love and consolation, but also of terror and violence. The work is both emotionally immersive and provocative, regularly creating controversy.
The human body and its visible suffering is the key theme in De Bruyckere’s whole oeuvre. We are now almost immune to images of suffering; the constant stream of ghastly pictures fed to us by the mass media has seen to that. Berlinde De Bruyckere seeks to restore our sensitivity to the suffering that is a timeless and universal part of the human condition. She makes us stop and look at it but leaves us free to make of her work what we will. In doing so, she unerringly explores the limits of the visual representation of physical and emotional pain.
De Bruyckere constructs her sculptures of wax, resin, rope and worn leather or textile and strings together separate wax casts to create single bodies. She is concerned solely with bodies; faces are concealed behind shocks of hair or cloths; heads are often completely missing.
Her Cripplewood presentation attracted great public attention at the 55th Venice Biennale. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag acquired her sculpture Into One – Another II, To P.P.P., 2010-2011 in 2011 and held a major retrospective of her work in 2015, much of it never previously exhibited in the Netherlands.
The exhibition, Berlinde De Bruyckere. Sculptures & Drawings. 2000 – 2014, was held in collaboration with SMAK in Ghent. It was on show there until 15 February 2015, after which a modified version was presented at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and subsequently at Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria.