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Berlinde De Bruyckere

26 September 2020 until 21 February 2021

The collection pavilion at the Middelheim Museum displays 50 objects and artworks from the collection. In successive focus presentations, we will zoom in on each one of these. The museum ‘activates’ the collection item by examining it from various perspectives and giving it more context. Each presentation is unique, has its own line of approach and highlights an aspect of artistic practice.

About the work

The second focus presentation takes Onschuld kan een hel zijn (1995) as its starting point: an archive folder with sketches, working photos and project proposals written by Berlinde De Bruyckere (Ghent, 1964). This folder was a working tool during the preparation of her Middelheim exhibition of the same name in 1995. Today, the folder prompts us to examine this artist's working process.

The intimate focus presentation displays this process as a stimulating stream of images, of never-before-seen sketches, reference works and working photos. They represent the broad and coherent basis from which a diverse range of works in Berlinde De Bruyckere's oeuvre came about. The artist guides us, in her own words and images, through her mindset. In doing so, she specifically addresses the creation, the interconnectedness and the present-day relevance of two monumental sculptures that you can also see in the museum: at the Braem Pavilion, a work from the 1995 exhibition is being temporarily reinstalled, and in the art park, the visitor can discover the remarkable outdoor sculpture Onschuld kan een hel zijn (1993). This sculpture was recently purchased for the Middelheim collection with support from the Middelheim Promoters and the artist.

We can see how, in the artist's mind, everything is meticulously connected to everything else, and how she consistently makes links between the past and the present, recent and earlier works, in a rapidly changing society. The artist is inviting us, in her sculptures and in the preceding process, to draw connections between her and our images, stories and meanings. 



Please note: currently, the collection pavilion and the braem pavilion are temporarily closed.

Because of the security measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, you must reserve a free ticket online. 

Reserve your ticket here

  • Because time blocks are used, we advise you to visit the collection pavilion and the Braem pavilion first and then the work in the art park.
  • Visitors must wear a face mask in the collection pavilion and the Braem pavilion. This does not apply to children under 12 or to people who cannot wear a face mask for medical reasons.
  • Follow the established route and maintain the 1.5 m distance from other people.
  • Wear bags and backpacks on your front.
  • Do not return paper plans after your visit.
  • Do not wait at the exit.

The park plan (pdf), the plan of the collection pavilion (pdf) and the wall panel texts will guide you.


Focus Presentation #2 online

The Middelheim Museum would like to give everyone the opportunity to see this exceptional presentation even now, when the Corona virus means we can’t all travel and visitor numbers are limited. This is why the whole of Focus Presentation #2 is now available online.

See the focus presentation here online


About Berlinde De Bruyckere

Berlinde De Bruyckere (Ghent, 1964; lives and works in Ghent) makes sculptures, installations and watercolors. Using wax, textiles, animal skins, hair, wood and metal she explores motifs such as the human body, trees and flowers, blankets and horses. Her shapes and materials are metaphorical, her vocabulary idiosyncratic but recognizable. Underneath the first - often attractive - layer is a great complexity full of ambiguities and contradictions. For the artist this reflects the universal human experience, the human condition. Suffering, death, loneliness and fear go hand in hand with beauty, life, love and care. De Bruyckere shows us what we feel and know, but not always want to know and see. And it is precisely in this recognition of our shared fate as a vulnerable human being that a strong message of comfort and beauty is hidden.

De Bruyckere studied monumental arts at Sint-Lucas in Ghent. She exhibits internationally and her work has been included in important collections at home and abroad. In 2013 she made a strong impression with her representation of Belgium at the Venice Biennale, in collaboration with Nobel prize-winner J.M. Coetzee. More recently she has also been doing projects in the performing arts. She received the Prix Jeune Peinture Belge, the Flemish Culture Prize for Visual Arts and an honorary doctorate from Ghent University.