Berlinde de Bruyckere

The Embalmer

Profound affinities to the art historical conventions of painting and sculpture from the Gothic era through to those of the present are frequently discernible.

Such Christian subject matter as the Man of Sorrow, tortured bodies, the thieves on the cross or bound to the flagellation column, are combined with the distress of animals for slaughter and livestock.

The horse, as an innocent victim of the great wars across the battlefields of Flanders, or being too old for work and condemned to the slaughterhouse, constitutes one of the symbolic leitmotifs of De Bruyckere’s work.

Wild animals, skinned and disemboweled, stags and does, antlers and extended animal legs attached to the human body as in the ancient myth of Aktaeon, are cast in iron or wax.

Such subject matter is continued in delicate, sensitive drawings and watercolors on paper, animal, plant, and human becoming one.

The crown of thorns, the long hair, the many horns of antlers dividing like branches are telling evidence of growth and decay and of human involvement in the cycles of nature.

Published on the occasion of the exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz, 18 April – 5 July 2015.

English and German text.

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