Bouke de Vries is a Dutch artist born in Utrecht that has lately dedicated to ceramic works and also its restoration. For him, broken isn’t bad. A broken object can be converted into art pieces, mesmerizing because of the creativity behind them.
‘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, 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 Utretch was steeped, with their implied decay. By incorporating contemporary items a new vocabulary of symbolism evolves.
These ‘dead natures’ give everyday household objects, a plate, a milk jug, a teapot, a modern poignancy that refers back to the vanitas and momentomori paintings of that period.
In this flawed world perfection seems to be an attainable goal. Even when an object is ‘worth’ restoring, some owners prefer to hide the damage as much as possible, to deny the evidence of what was probably the most dramatic episode in the life of the piece. Especially since modern methods mean other options are available.
With Bouke it works exactly the opposite way, and that’s what makes his creations masterpieces.