Bouke De Vries is the creator of wonderful worlds made of broken porcelain.
After years of working in fashion, he started working as a conservator. His Dutch culture brought him closer to the culture of porcelain pottery.
He started to study ceramic conservation and in doing so he reconnected with his Flemish heritage. He learned his ceramic techniques and skills at Dean College.
He quickly became one of the most talented conservators able to quickly identify the time period and country of a single fragment. People like Madonna, Grayson Perry, and the world’s largest ceramic collectors gave him their damaged aquisti.
One day after looking at fragments of a vase, he became inspired to build characters out of them. The fragile fragments of sculpture became poetry in his hands. The broken veins that are recognizable to the viewer underlines the break and the fragility of the artwork itself. The destruction of the original material becomes a process of rebirth and permutation, making him a contemporary alchemist who finds vital energy in a static life.
Tragedy, fighting, redemption and inevitability of death are among his themes. He also portray religion with a decadent twist. The characters are often protected by a glass jar that becomes a certain aura.
Political icons, cultures and ideologies are the main theme making him an engaging artist. His figure of Mao is an ominous warning. Huge butterflies and skulls cover the figure, Sottolinenado, a tragic charm.
The ancient material, used in this unusual way, acquires immediate modernity. Chimera sometimes meet their updated version constructed out of a modern material like plastic. Their ancient archetypes are constructed out of sugar like they used to do in the past century.
The juxtaposition creates a link between cultural heritage and a cross between centuries.
His imagination is gothic and surreal, full of feeling and sublime tragedy. The gesture of breaking a vase is filled with cruelty and violence but is then redeemed in the reconstruction.
I met Bouke De Vries in his house in London a week before he flew to Berlin to install his massive work called War and Peace for the Charlottenburg Palace.
War and Piece is made by porcelain, sugar and plastic statues, and many caricatures from different cultures following each other in a central point. The climax and focus of the work is a big mushroom cloud made by angel heads, skulls, and Chinese little heads. In the middle are the Christian gods protected by the Asian gods at the base. Once again, ideologies cause mass destruction. The Art exposes how religion can destroy people.
Bouke De Vries also created a ceramic installation to mark the 300th anniversary of Pallant House to celebrate Geoffrey Freeman’s collection of Bow china, one of the world’s earliest collections of English porcelain. The installation was also made to celebrate the 2012 Olympic Stadium games.
Fiammetta De Michele