One relatively new artist who understands “creation” in a different way than most of us is the ever so peculiar (and I mean this in the very best of ways) London-based, Dutch-born Bouke de Vries who after studying design and working for the likes of John Galliano, switched careers to study ceramic conservation and restoration. It is in this new found artistic skill that de Vries has started to make his name in the last 4 years.
In our shared understanding of common language, to create means to build, to bring forth something that was not there before and we assume it’s all about adding. So you put materials together to build a house or to build a custom sofa; you add clay to a stick figure to create a sculpture or add pigment to a canvas to create a painting. But what if I told you that creating also means to subtract?
Instead of reconstructing a broken 17th-century Chinese export dish or 19th century Meissen figure as a restorer is “supposed” to do, de Vries geniusly “explodes” porcelain and other found materials creating contemporary precious objects. So instead of hiding the traumatic evidence in the object’s life (a broken head, a shattered bowl, a missing handle etc.), he instills new virtues and values in the old objects and makes them new.
Featured here are some of my favorites in no particular order: An exploded Chinese Wan-li porcelain bowl and Kang-xi 18th century vase that mimic in 3-D the painted still-life tradition of his Dutch roots; a fractured 18th century blanc-de-chine Guan Yin holding contemporary trinkets of our time; a shattered 18th century Chinese celadon horse and a reconstructed Chinese earthenware elephant with other mixed media. This is one artist whose career I’m following!
image credits: © Tim Higgins for Bouke de Vries, London. He is represented by galleries in London, Kyoto, Amsterdam, Basel and Milan.
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