Berlinde De Bruyckere Crumples Life Into A Grotesque Stillness.

World-renowned Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere makes sculptures that challenge the idea of bodily form, of becoming and unbecoming. Using organic and inorganic materials, she creates mangled figures that truly should never be — headless, eyeless, and sexless forms that speak novels of pain by way of contortion.

Her sculptures from The Black Horse series were crafted in 2003 from polyurethane foam, horse hide, wood, and iron. Each horse’s lack of eyes and sex stresses the importance of the “body” as a complete whole. “The glossiness of their skin underscores all of the things that are covered and hidden, a sensual, almost tender casing for these uncomfortable shapes,” describes Saatchi Gallery.

(Don’t worry; all skins and hides were sourced from horses that died of natural deaths.)

From there, she has moved onto more human works that, though comprised of less organic materials like wax, epoxy, metal, wood and glass, illicit the same sense of discomfort. About the image below, Marthe, she describes the importance, again, of ingesting the whole being: “It is not because you never see a head that it looks like it has been cut off. It is, rather, that I no longer think the presence of a head is necessary. The figure as a whole is a mental state. The presence or absence of a head is irrelevant.”

These unsettling images below are from a recent show in Montreal, at DHC-ART.

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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