Bouke de Vries, the London-based artist who launched his practice after a career of patching up broken ceramics, is exploring the global influence of blue and white at the Bernardaud Foundation in Limoges, France. My Blue China: The Colors of Globalization opened on June 11 and will run through Nov. 21st.
Above image: Bouke de Vries, Dead Nature. Photograph by Tim Higgins.
From the Foundation:
“Recent cases of withdrawal into cultural identity have led many artists to ponder the phenomenon of cultural globalization. My Blue China sheds new light on the issues at hand, bringing together the works of thirteen internationally renowned contemporary artists selected for their ties to the history and culture of blue-and-white wares. The subject is an obvious choice for an exhibition at the Fondation Bernardaud, given its prominence in the annals of tableware and decoration. Yet My Blue China ventures well beyond decorative arts, for it documents the extent to which contemporary art is open to, and draws inspiration from, the story of blue-and-white wares. Inspired by its various forms – the Willow Pattern, Delft, Sèvres, Wedgwood and majolica – the artists incorporate these universal motifs into their painting, sculpture, digital photography,video or installation art. They show us just how much the blue-and-white tradition permeates and refreshes the esthetic and identity-based preoccupations that are still so persistent in the present context.”
De Vries got his start restoring broken ceramics. In an interview with Blouin Art Info, he recalled how he once repaired a Grayson Perry vase for a client, who turned out to be Madonna. That restoration feeds into his current artistic practice in which de Vries exults in the honesty of flaws. From the interview:
“In Japan there is this tradition where you celebrate the ‘history’ of an object and you show the repairs — the repair is beautiful in itself — while in Europe you have to make it completely invisible. I got frustrated by this in my job as a restorer, because I think you shouldn’t always try to hide the passing of time. There are different ways to restore: making it completely invisible or a more honest way, still showing something, not lying about the piece.”
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