It Almost Seemed a Lily: Berlinde De Bruyckere
Artist Berlinde De Bruyckere enters into a sensitive dialogue with the sixteenth-century Enclosed Gardens. Published to accompany an exhibition at Museum Hof Van Busleyden, Mechelen, 15 December - 12 May, 2019.
"I mould and cut out large petal shapes that correspond to the size of my body and carefully mount them on the oak frame. I repeat this process until the 'lily' appears. The warm petals weigh heavily upon each other. Outstretched and melted together, they enforce their final shape: It almost seemed a lily. [...] I connect the petals of the lilies to images of skin, of flesh; their fragrance to lust and pleasure; their unsavoury smell while wilting to ephemerality and pain." Berlinde De Bruyckere
Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere's most recent work is inspired by the sixteenth-century artefacts known as the Enclosed Gardens. The Gardens are small wooden cabinets filled with a profusion of artefacts, ranging from handmade sculptures to flowers and animals in silk, and including wax medallions and fabric-wrapped bone relics. De Bruyckere senses a natural affinity between her work and these wonderful microcosms, which were part of the spiritual world of the sisters of the Hospital of Our Lady in Mechelen, who crafted them with the utmost care and devotion. With her series 'It Almost Seemed a lily', De Bruyckere enters into a dialogue with the seven Enclosed Gardens of Mechelen, which are now recognised as masterpieces. She has created monumental wooden frames that house the tender silhouette of a flower, the latter of which is composed of a multitude of materials that can conceal as much as they reveal. The imposing dimensions of the frames contrast with the fragility of their interiors. Just as the sumptuous Gardens stimulate the imagination and suggest a paradisiacal 'garden', the material stratification and interwoven contrasts in De Bruyckere's works also evoke another time and space: a Utopia.
De Bruyckere is showing her new series for the first time in an exhibition of the same name in the Hof van Busleyden Museum in Mechelen, where the Enclosed Gardens are displayed (15 December 2018 - 12 May 2019). To mark the occasion, the artist has created a luxurious portfolio in which her work is linked both visually and conceptually to the Gardens. Evocative images by top photographer Mirjam Devriendt are interwoven with poetic texts by Berlinde De Bruyckere, Barbara Baert (KU Leuven) and Lieve Watteeuw (KU Leuven). The portfolio contains six removable sections that can be progressively opened and unravelled as though an Enclosed Garden.Text in English and Dutch.
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