Bouke de Vries (previously) refers to some of his porcelain sculptures as “three-dimensional still lifes.” The artist, who was born in the Netherlands and now lives in London, creates sprawling assemblages that resemble a classic bowl of fruit or table setting frequently found in Dutch art. “I compose these pieces as, after the painter has finished with them, the ceramics get broken and decayed, and I breathe new life into them. The butterfly in still life is a symbol for the resurrection in (the) way I see what I do through my work,” he tells Colossal. In de Vries’s works, though, the seemingly mundane scenes are fractured with bursting ceramics, encroaching insects, and decaying fruit.
The artist began working with porcelain as a restorer for 15 years before embarking on his own practice, which begins with a search for broken pottery and glass shards. He never breaks an undamaged piece but rather revitalizes those that are damaged already by creating new figures that celebrate the beauty of their previous forms. With a penchant for Kintsugi, he often utilizes gold lacquer to highlight the repaired cracks.
Alongside sculptural still lifes, the figure of Guan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion, mercy, and kindness, recurs in de Vries’s work. Often surrounded by cracked shards and recomposed garments, she conveys an ability for understanding and repair.