Joke De Bruyn
St Lucas School of Arts Antwerp
When you approach Joke De Bruyn’s work, you are aroused at first. The objects and sculptures are composed of found materials that are touching in their peculiar interplay. Large, found objects, such as boards or particularly unusual tree stumps, refer to a strong vulnerability due to their combination with fragile objects, such as branches or hair.
Joke De Bruyn finds her objects in her surroundings, on walks and wanderings. She finds the items for a reason that is not always explainable and obvious. By adding other objects later, the actual statement of De Bruyn is generated. The combination generates the explosive power radiated by the work.
Particularly fine lines in drawings, horse or human hair form a contradiction to coarse boards and large ladders. Trees with branchy boughs form the connecting link between the opposites of violence and vulnerability. The works appear to be a personal diary in the form of objects.
None of De Bruyn’s works have a title. She wants to give the viewer the opportunity to interpret her works, to find his own thoughts, his personal story in it. For example, one observer, an elderly man, saw death slowly leaning over his pillow in a work consisting of a cushion and a tree stump.
The newly created latex work in the Weltkunstzimmer and the Sint Laurentiussite represents a new dimension, it is a further development of the working approach. De Bruyn sees latex as the skin of space. At the same time, she takes possession of the room by applying the material to the wall. In the last step, the room sheds it’s skin and becomes free. Here again the strong contrast between strength and fragility becomes apparent, with which De Bruyn plays in her works.
Two other striking objects are two carpets that lie and stand
in the room. Both are covered with black hair hanging in long strands. Carpets usually spread a feeling of home, of comfort. This effect is broken by the addition of hair. The viewer is no longer sure because the hair causes discomfort.
The hairs that appear in many of De Bruyn’s objects are very charged in their meaning: They can be strong, they almost inevitably belong to beauty, but they can also be greasy and repulsive. The perception of hair is influenced by culture; in some cultures it is concealed because it illustrates a particularly intimate relationship. Loss of hair means illness or death.
Joke De Bruyn’s objects are disturbing, they arouse curiosity about the stories behind them. De Bruyn, however, never discloses them. The objects remain a mystery, a mirror of one’s own soul – this is exactly what makes her work so exciting.
© Bärbel Möllmann