Berlinde De Bruyckere. In the Woods there are Chainsaws
Berlinde De Bruyckere and Tommy Wieringa
Steidl Hauser & Wirth, Göttingen, 2009
This publication on the work of Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere presents for the first time her recent sculptures and installations circling around the subject of the human figure and nature.
Working in a range of sculptural media, including wax, wood, wool, horse skin and hair, the central themes around which her work revolves are the vulnerability and extreme fragility of people, animals and nature. Berlinde De Bruyckere is not a mere sculptor, she treats her work as much as a painter as a sculptress. In creating her work she applies the wax pigments in layers like paint and this colouring process leads to an incredible realism in the skin tones.
The recent wax sculptures of tree trunks and branches, at times lying or hanging in vitrines, close the circle with the variety of natural forms – animal, human and tree – that run through De Bruyckere’s work. The trees are very nearly the colour of human skin where the texture of the pallid wax suggests a skin so thin and fragile that it is almost translucent. The artist doesn’t want the viewer to see the sculptures as trees but as strange vulnerable beings. These fragments are hollowed out and shaped by time, knots and veins protruding from the pattern of wax – vulnerable like the human figures that accompany them or form one symbiosis when in a process of metamorphosis arms transform into delicate tree branches.