World-renowned Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere makes sculptures that challenge the idea of bodily form, of becoming and unbecoming. Using organic and inorganic materials, she creates mangled figures that truly should never be — headless, eyeless, and sexless forms that speak novels of pain by way of contortion.

Her sculptures from The Black Horse series were crafted in 2003 from polyurethane foam, horse hide, wood, and iron. Each horse’s lack of eyes and sex stresses the importance of the “body” as a complete whole. “The glossiness of their skin underscores all of the things that are covered and hidden, a sensual, almost tender casing for these uncomfortable shapes,” describes Saatchi Gallery.

(Don’t worry; all skins and hides were sourced from horses that died of natural deaths.)

From there, she has moved onto more human works that, though comprised of less organic materials like wax, epoxy, metal, wood and glass, illicit the same sense of discomfort. About the image below, Marthe, she describes the importance, again, of ingesting the whole being: “It is not because you never see a head that it looks like it has been cut off. It is, rather, that I no longer think the presence of a head is necessary. The figure as a whole is a mental state. The presence or absence of a head is irrelevant.”

These unsettling images below are from a recent show in Montreal, at DHC-ART.

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