Currently on view: Montréal
Berlinde De Bruyckere
at DHC/ART, Montréal
30 June – 13 November 2011
“Les Deux” (2007) Courtesy Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin
The air is somber and solemn at DHC/ART gallery, where life-size sculptures of human and equestrian carcasses are lugubriously arranged in a clinically white exhibition. An unsettling sense of disquiet has taken over the space, as if we have just witnessed the inexorable reality of a public execution. Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere uses the physical body as a vessel, a receptacle to endure violence, pain, suffering and ultimately death, the body as a theater that lays bare the trials of our human condition.
“Les Deux” (2001) displaces the gallery into a veterinary morgue, in laying out two sculptures of full-grown horses on a purpose-built scaffold. These ostensibly simulate real animals, such that one expects the stench of fresh road-kill to arise. Not quite real, however these were cast from actual corpses and subsequently covered with genuine hides and manes, hand stitched together. The equine faces are featureless, eyes, nostrils and mouth have been sown shut, to accentuate our perception of an enormous lifeless mass. Throughout the ages, horses have symbolized power, glory, strength and freedom, the noble beast long ago domesticated by humans has served in as many campaigns for civilization, as for pillage and war. Now channeled through De Bruyckere’s vision, the horse has become an emblem for the aftermath of powerlessness and desolation.