Berlinde De Bruyckere (b. 1964)
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Berlinde De Bruyckere (b. 1964)

028, 2007

Details
Berlinde De Bruyckere (b. 1964)
028, 2007
wax, glass, wood, blankets, iron and epoxy
293.5 x 392 x 74cm.
Executed in 2007
Provenance
Galleria Continua, San Gimignano.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
Exhibited
San Gimignano, Galleria Continua, Berlinde De Bruyckere. 12th May, 2007.
Montreal, DHC art, Berlinde De Bruyckere, 2011.
Ghent, SMAK, Berlinde De Bruyckere. Sculptures and drawings 2000-2014, 2014-2015, p. 291, no. 143 (illustrated in colour, pp. 188-189).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Berlinde De Bruyckere’s oeuvre belongs to a Nietzschean tradition of capturing the Dionysian underbelly of Apollonian existence through art. With her embryonic palette of translucent flesh tones and her preferred medium of wax, she excavates the soft, pulsing forms that lie unseen beneath the surface of living things. Created in 2007, 028 features a row of wax trees and branches clustered together in the upper gallery of a two-century old museum vitrine. In the lower gallery, piles of soft-hued blankets resume the place of absent roots.

The subject matter of the present work stands apart from much of the artist’s oeuvre by representing trees instead of equine or human forms — a theme she would revisit that same year in the works 019 and 029, and yet again on a grander scale in Kreupelhout Cripplewood (2013), a monumental wax sculpture of a fallen elm conceived alongside Nobel prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee for the 55th Venice Biennale. Together with De Bruyckere’s severed horse torsos and antlered-corpses, 028 appears as a memento mori to the most powerful forces of nature, and revels in its exposed fragility.

'Behind the distorted, antique glass, you see sculptures in the shape of trees or branches. The trees are nearly the same colour as human skin, so you end up with something fragile. Because the antique glass distorts your view, a couple of doors are left open, inviting you to look inside. I don’t want people to see the sculptures as trees, but as strange, vulnerable beings’ (B. De Bruyckere, quoted in Berlinde De Bruyckere: We Are All Flesh, ACCA Education, produced for Berlinde De Bruyckere: We Are All Flesh, Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne, 2012).

De Bruyckere began working with horses when she used them as a metaphor for death in a commissioned work on World War I in the late 1990s. Her 2015 No Life Lost II is a variation on this theme, presenting the viewer with a heap of leather-bound equine corpses thrust inside an opened display case. ‘Because in war, you don’t talk about one thing or person who died,’ De Bruyckere said of her horse sculptures. ‘There’s this enormous loss, and for me this could only be represented by the body of the horse, which is huge and strong, but also helpless when it is dead’ (Berlinde De Bruyckere interviewed by Jeanett Stampe. Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner. Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. November 2017. ,).

028 can be viewed in the same light: as a protected display of the remnants of a forest, inviting its audience to safely gaze at a once omnipotent and fear-inducing entity. The wilderness, a Dionysian realm of insuppressible and unpredictable pleasure and violence, has been given refuge in a glass cabinet, responding to the Apollonian call to reason and order. De Bruyckere has likewise referenced the myth of Daphne from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, who escaped the infatuated Apollo by running into the forest and transforming into a laurel tree. ‘I was very happy when I found the myth of Ovid where the human transformed into a tree. When the body is dead and a tree is growing out of it, it becomes a symbol of life and hope’ ((B. De Bruyckere, quoted in Berlinde De Bruyckere: We Are All Flesh, ACCA Education, produced for Berlinde De Bruyckere: We Are All Flesh, Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne, 2012).

De Bruyckere’s well of inspiration is as profound as her technical mastery, permitting her works to sit comfortably among the Old Masters, as they did in the 2012 exhibition Mysterium Lieb. Berlinde De Bruyckere im Dialog mit Cranach und Pasolini (Mysterious Body: Berlinde De Bruyckere in dialogue with Cranach and Pasolini) at the Kunsthalle in Vienna. Her work continues a long legacy of finding beauty in the inevitable tragedy of the human condition. 028 is a stunning expression of the Janus face of nature, combining in one work the irreconcilable dualities of our existence: time past and time future, life and death, hope and nostalgic despair.
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