Ceramics comprise an art form thousands of years old, with evidence of a ceramic art tradition apparent in most developed cultures. While quite durable when preserved and cared for properly, ceramic objects often suffer catastrophic damages as one misstep can leave a once-pristine sculpture or vase reduced to many shattered pieces. Dutch artist Bouke de Vries uses broken ceramics as the primary medium for his artwork, celebrating the “beauty of destruction” through his fragmented sculptures.
De Vries began his career in the fashion industry and later changed direction, studying ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College. With over a decade of experience as a ceramics restorer, he began to create his own artworks from reclaimed ceramics beyond repair. His experience in the fashion industry, knowledge of ceramics restoration, and the rich artistic tradition of his home country all heavily influence his work.
His deconstructed sculptures take on a variety of forms, but many of them are pieced together using the kintsugi technique. This Japanese method uses a special lacquer that is dusted or mixed with gold powder to mend the objects. “The philosophy behind kintsugi aligns very well with one of the starting points of my practice,” de Vries remarks. “I believe that something damaged can still be beautiful. With kintsugi the damage is considered part of a piece’s history: rather than hiding it, it is celebrated as an integral part of that. I try to express that in my own way.”