Bouke de Vries

Bouke de Vries
  • 2022 participant 36 Vases Parade; May 8 - July 2 at Terra Delft Gallery

Bouke de Vries, born in 1960 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, and Central St. Martin’s in London. Later he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College.

In his practice as a private conservator he was faced daily with issues and contradictions concerning perfection and value. 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 emphasizes 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 and their implied decay, a tradition in which his hometown of Utrecht was steeped.

By incorporating contemporary items a new vocabulary of symbolism evolves. These ‘dead nature’ pieces, natures morts, give everyday household objects - a plate, a milk jug, a teapot - a modern poignancy that refers back to the vanita and momento mori paintings of that period.

“The ‘Venus de Milo’ is venerated despite losing her arms, but when a Meissen muse loses a finger she is rendered virtually worthless.”

Objects by Bouke de Vries