‘Cure Cubed’, for the ‘Cure Parkinson’s Trust’
Contributing artworks for ‘Cure Cubed’ a selling exhibition to raise funds for the ‘Cure Parkinson’s Trust’: Article
‘The Wall’, 2014
The Wall, 2014, video installation, art direction by Stefano Vuga.
Studying human activity through the recovery of material culture
It is fascinating that almost every human culture in the history of the world has developed its own style of ceramics; and that it is in large part their ceramics that are the archeological remnants of ancient cultures. These historical fragments are the starting point of the works in this exhibition, whose title comes from the dictionary definition of archaeology. Made from the very earth of the land of their origin, primordially transformed by fire, they are partly the ceramics of China (a country synonymous with ceramics) and partly archeologi- cally recovered Dutch white Delftware.
My works often start with these two: the Chinese because of their place in ceramics history and the variety of materials; and the Delftware as it has such an important place in my native Dutch history and culture.
The Chinese works here cover the Han, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties. Some items were grave goods, intended to help the deceased in the afterlife. So many cultures do this – not least Egypt – it almost seems to be a universal approach to death in ancient cultures. Other items are from marine archeology – ships laden with ceramics, lost and lying undisturbed on the sea floor for hundreds of years before being found again in recent decades.
The Dutch works focus on 17th- and 18th-century fragments of white Delftware, itself
a material originally conceived to mimic Chinese porcelain. Unadorned with the usual cobalt-blue decoration, it was a material of everyday use, domestic or commercial, and when damaged was thrown away into cesspits, again lying undisturbed for hundreds of years until it was unearthed recently, often by amateur archeologists.
In these works the archeological remnants are the jumping-off point for a new narrative, telling new stories. Perhaps one day they too will disappear back into the earth and will again be found in some unimagined future. What stories will they tell then?
Tempest in a Teacup by Tim Blanks on The New York Times T Magazine
Tall, broad, with a trim beard, Bouke de Vries scarcely looks the scholarly sort who would spend his days obsessing over fragments of delicate porcelain or composing fragile memento mori under bell jars.
And yet the 53-year-old Dutch artist was originally drawn to restoring ceramics as “a noble profession, saving the nation’s heritage.” De Vries originally studied textiles at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. After completing his postgrad work at the Central School of Arts & Crafts in London (before it became Central Saint Martins), he assisted Zandra Rhodes, made hats for Stephen Jones and worked with John Galliano on his first two collections, but all that left him dissatisfied. So when his partner, Miles Chapman, asked him what he really wanted to do with his life, he sought out a college course specializing in ceramics restoration.
Starting out, de Vries did work for institutions like the National Trust and Christie’s, artists like Grayson Perry and Gavin Turk and the estates of iconic ceramists Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. Five years ago, he got itchy fingers, so following the classic budding novelist’s dictum — write what you know — he decided to do something using broken ceramics.
All over the house he shares in West London with Chapman and Sonny, a hyperactive Manchester terrier, there is impressive evidence of his genius at repurposing and elevating fragments of the past. On one wall of the living room, there is one of his updated earthenware versions of the displays that were popular in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, when blue-and-white Chinese porcelain was a status symbol. For his, de Vries chose only white pieces, “all very much of a domestic nature, for use on a daily basis and thrown in rubbish pits once broken.” On the opposite wall, he has made a map of Holland using fragments from the same excavation site. “The idea is that clay from Holland made the objects,” de Vries explains. “They were broken and returned to the soil of Holland, then excavated and used by me to create the Netherlands again, thus completing the circle.”
Bouke de Vries at the 2014 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale
The installation – originally conceived for the Holburne Museum in Bath, England – was inspired by the great European table decorations of the 17th and 18th centuries (made first in sugar and then in porcelain) and by the grand banquets that preceded major battles such as Waterloo, described in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. Six flanking groups portray close combat between the forces of sugar and porcelain – with plastic ‘cyborg’ arms and armaments representing the inexorable march of modern materials. The centrepiece is a porcelain atom-bomb mushroom cloud, sucking up everything in an act of cataclysmic destruction, creating a contradictory image of terrible beauty.
Precious on Grazia.it
Precious exhibition displays 16 ‘exploded art works’ by Bouke de Vries. He has created these sculptures from reclaimed broken ceramics. Watch the video on Grazia.it. Precious, the inaugural, month-long exhibit, will commence in June 2011 and display 16 ‘exploded art works’ by Bouke de Vries. He has created these sculptures from reclaimed broken ceramics. Arriving on the aspects of nature and spirituality which inform the pieces and, adorning them with butterfly and dragonfly pendants, garnets, pearls as well as drusy stone, proved an organic, free-form process for Bouke and Annoushka.
Directed by: James Lovick
Interview by: Delphine Hervieu
Music by: Holidays (Lies)
Grade: Marty @ Rushes
Thanks to: Jamie Durand, Lucas Lowe
SIGNS (METAMORPHOSIS) on 2dmblogazine.it
Interview, Bouke De Vries GloriaMariaGallery Filmed by Matteo Cherubino for 2dmblogazine teaser from matteo cherubino on Vimeo.
Vanitas: The transience of earthly pleasures
The Latin word vanitas has two different applications as does its English cognate ‘vanity’. The original Latin adjective vanus means both ‘empty’ and ‘frivolous’. In the Vanitas tradition of the 17th century, Vanitas paintings were considered by their owners to be both beautiful objects and works of spiritual contemplation concerned with the impermanence of man and his earthly pleasures in the face of the unavoidable and definitive nature of death. The most immediate and universal symbol of mortality in the Vanitas tradition is the human skull but other objects also held special significance as references to the passing of time and fragility of human existence. The book, candles, hourglass, mirrors, flowers, insects, soap bubbles and shadows all combined to create both a literal and abstract symbolism suggestive of the transience of life. In the current show Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures, AVA explores all facets of the Vanitas tradition, displaying original works dating back to the 17th century alongside painting and sculpture from 27 international contemporary artists.
Showing for the first time in London since it was first unveiled back in 2000 will be Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s seminal shadow work British Wildlife, a shadow sculpture made out of taxidermised animals which projects a back-to-back self portrait of the two artists silhouetted on the wall behind. All the animals included in this work were once owned by Tim Noble’s father and were inherited by the artists after his death in the late 1990s. British Wildlife is therefore an intensely personal take on the Vanitas theme as well as the language of momento mori. The show will also feature a series of new Vanitas inspired old master paintings by Jake and Dinos Chapman; a life sized electric chair covered in butterflies and made entirely out of porcelain by artists Bertozzi and Casoni and a bouquet of flowers fashioned out of stuffed blackbird heads by Polly Morgan. The Vanitas symbol of the skull also makes an appearance through the work ofDutch artist Bouke de Vries’ Mao Head with Skulls, a life-sized bust of Chairman Maomade out of tiny skulls made out of porcelain, and Alastair Mackie’s Mud Skull, ahuman skull cast from mud, straw and horse manure.