Focus on Berlinde de Bruyckere

Focus - -

Today, Artsper has a suggestion for you: let’s focus on the activity of a unique artist, Berlinde de Bruyckere.

Born in Ghent in 1964, Berlinde de Bruyckere grew up in a Christian conservative family. Between an absent father and long weeks in a boarding school, the young Berlinde developed a complex imaginary world in which Eros and Thanatos intertwined.

 atelier Berlinde de Bruyckere par Gautier Deblonde

Ateliers d’artistes – Berlinde de Bruyckere by Gautier Deblonde.

Harrowing and powerful, situated at the limit between nightmares and eroticism, the work of Berlinde de Bruyckere articulates around her pondering on vulnerability, the ephemeral and solitude. Her main subject is the body, animal or human, always deformed, recomposed and evasive.

The black Horse BdB 

The Black Horse.

Always surrounded by controversy, her artistic production uses casts, sometimes covered in horse skin (The Black Horse) or in wax or resin. In the Pieta that she has shown in the exhibition Papesses, in Avignon, the work of Berlinde de Bruyckere opposes the techniques used by painters: she applies successive coatings of pigmented wax directly in her casts.

She achieves recognition after the year 2000, when she has her first successful shows. In 2000, her work In Flanders Fields, shown at the Flanders Fields in Ypres delivers a powerful critique of the First World War. A few years later, in 2003, she gains international fame with her piece The Black Horse. Afterwards, her career is more and more successful, and she has her first solo show at the Maison Rouge in 2005. In 2013, she presents at the Belgium Pavillion an in situ installation placed on the floor: a huge wax tree, reminding us of a human lying on the ground, his limbs, resembling stumps, wrapped in sheets and blankets.


Biennale BdB 

kreupelhout – Crippelwoodf, Venice Biennale 2013.

The religious imagery occupies an important spot in the artist’s work. The passion of Jesus Christ and themes such as the crucifixion and pietas are recurring subjects in her work. The martyrized bodies evoke pain and death, being it material or immaterial.

Another important theme in her work is the horse. Influenced by images of dead horses in Belgian towns during the First World War, these animals invite us to ponder upon the body, its decomposition and often have visible veins that evoke the condition of the flesh.


The symbol of the cover also occupies a major place in the work of Berlinde de Bruyckere. The sheets cover the faces and the scarred bodies. They represent a double symbol: on the one side, they suggest protection and care, but on the other, they remind us of gags or mortuary drapes. The cover keeps warm but it can also be suffocating.

It is important to emphasize the delicate materials used in the artist’s creations. The wax and other organic materials such as leather, fur or hair are opposed to the violence of her themes.

Berlinde de Bruyckere is an artist to discover again and again!

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