FAD Magazine about Bouke de Vries
Paul Carey-Kent wrote about Bouke de Vries’ new commission at UCL for FAD Magazine:
“I discovered all that only because I was in the nearby ‘Japanese Garden’ for the launch of a new commission, the first of several in the pipeline. London-based Dutch artist Bouke de Vries’ first public art work does all the right things: repurposes his established language to striking effect, provides the potential for discussion, and comes with a plinth designed to double as the seat he’s sitting on in my photograph. De Vries trained in ceramic conservation and is best-known for his ‘exploded’ way of reclaiming broken pots after their accidental breakage.”Read the article here
ABOUT Bouke de Vries
Bouke de Vries (1960) was born in Utrecht, NL
He lives and works in London, UK
Bouke de Vries studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven, and Central St Martin’s, London. After working with John Galliano, Stephen Jones and Zandra Rhodes, he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College. Every day in his practice as a private conservator he was faced with issues and contradictions around perfection and worth: “The Venus de Milo’ is venerated despite losing her arms, but when a Meissen muse loses a finger she is rendered virtually worthless.”
Using his skills as a restorer (c.f. Ron Mueck’s model-maker skills), his ‘exploded’ artworks reclaim broken pots after their accidental trauma. He has called it ‘the beauty of destruction’. Instead of reconstructing them, he deconstructs them. Instead of hiding the evidence of this most dramatic episode in the life of a ceramic object, he emphasises their new status, instilling new virtues, new values, and moving their stories forward.
The more contemplative works echo the 17th- and 18th-century still-life paintings of his Dutch heritage, especially the flower paintings of the Golden Age, a tradition in which his hometown of Utrecht was steeped (de Heem, van Alst, van Huysum inter alia), with their implied decay. By incorporating contemporary items a new vocabulary of symbolism evolves.
These ‘dead natures’ – natures morts – give everyday household objects, a plate, a milk jug, a teapot, a modern poignancy that refers back to the vanitas and memento mori paintings of that period. An installation in de Vries’s London house is arranged in the manner of Daniel Marot with white Delft domestic pottery rescued in fragments from 17th- and 18th-century rubbish tips, now dug up and partially pieced together. Among them are two small artists’ paint pots with the pigment still in them, as possibly once used by – who knows? – Vermeer or Rembrandt.