October 18, 2014 - S.M.A.K. - Berlinde De Bruyckere
October 18, 2014

Berlinde De Bruyckere

Studio Berlinde De Bruyckere. © Mirjam Devriendt.

Berlinde De Bruyckere
Sculptures & Drawings 2000–2014

October 18, 2014–February 15, 2015

Jan Hoetplein 2
9000 Gent

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S.M.A.K., the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent, is presenting Berlinde De Bruyckere. Sculptures & Drawings 2000–2014, the first mid-career survey of the work of this Belgian artist. The exhibition contains about 100 drawings, sculptures and installations revealing the evolution and many nuances in her oeuvre. It is a prime event for Belgium as no other solo presentation of the work of Berlinde De Bruyckere have toured the country since the major shows at the Middelheim Museum (Antwerp, 1996), the MuHKA (Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, 2001) and the Caermersklooster Provincial Cultural Centre (Ghent, 2002). Berlinde De Bruyckere has in the meantime exhibited at the most important international museums and institutions. S.M.A.K. has a longstanding relationship with Berlinde De Bruyckere. Her work was first shown at the museum in 1992; S.M.A.K. has since added several installations, sculptures and drawings to its permanent collection. In 2013, the museum assisted the artist at the Venice Biennale, where she represented her country.

Over the past two decades, Berlinde De Bruyckere (b. 1964, Ghent, Belgium) has created a significant oeuvre of drawings and sculptures in which the artist’s thoughts, feelings and actions all revolve around the body. Without exception, all of these works display powerful emotions that are intent on upsetting a world grown immune to excessive imagery.

During this period, Berlinde De Bruyckere has acquired a profound insight into the iconographic world of passion. With an infinite curiosity for the scope and depth of man’s emotional powers, she explores how the body experiences and expresses passion. She does not avoid excess, horror and the hypersensitive, but distills this sweltering torrent of emotions and bodily sensations into “new” bodies; “new” because they possess a disconcerting truth of their own rather than being a mere reconstruction of the artist’s analysis. Berlinde De Bruyckere’s drawings and sculptures start as true to life anatomical studies that are ultimately shaped by the tension between rich Western cultural-history references and personal imagination. Although the artist’s many choices throughout the creative process are highly intuitive, they are rooted in erudition, thorough study, a slow aesthetic process and a love for the materials used.

The exhibition includes early sculptures in cloth as well as the works using horse skins that brought the artist international acclaim. They are interspersed with wax sculptures which in recent years have slowly transmuted from the human body to vegetal forms. One of the most impressive works in this series, the installation Kreupelhout – Cripplewood, which De Bruyckere created in 2012–13 for the Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, is being fully reconstructed at the S.M.A.K.

The many drawings form an essential part of the selection. They are shown in series, along with the sculptures, as works of art in their own right. Their diversity and subtle nuances further enrich the representation of emotional and metaphysical experience which lies at the core of the artist’s oeuvre.

To coincide with the exhibition, Mercatorfonds is publishing the first substantial monograph on Berlinde De Bruyckere’s oeuvre. It documents the last 25 years of her career, including visual source material from her rich archives. The editor-in-chief, Angela Mengoni, is contributing an essay to the publication, as are Emmanuel Alloa and Gary Carrion-Murayari. Philippe Van Cauteren, the artistic director of the S.M.A.K., adds a personal letter to the artist.

A modified version of the exhibition will travel on to the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands (February 28–May 31, 2015), and the Kunsthaus Bregenz-KUB, Bregenz, Austria (April 18–July 5, 2015).

For further information, please contact Eline Verbauwhede:
T + 32 (0) 9 240 76 60 / eline [​at​] smak.be


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