Bouke de Vries











Born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Bouke de Vries studied at the Design Academy  Eindhoven, and Central St Martin’s, London. After working with John Galliano, Stephen Jones and Zandra Rhodes, he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College. Every day in his practice as a private conservator he was faced with issues and contradictions around perfection and worth:

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

Using his skills as a restorer (c.f. Ron Mueck’s model-maker skills), 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 emphasises 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, a tradition in which his hometown of Utretch was steeped (de Heem, van Alst, van Huysum inter alia), with their implied decay. By incorporating contemporary items a new vocabulary of symbolism evolves.

These ‘dead natures’ – natures morts – give everyday household objects, a plate, a milk jug, a teapot, a modern poignancy that refers back to the vanitas and momento mori paintings of that period. An installation in de Vries’s London house is arranged in the manner of Daniel Marot with white Delft domestic pottery rescued in fragments from 17th- and 18th-century rubbish tips, now dug up and partially pieced together. Among them are two small artists’ paint pots with the pigment still in them, as possibly once used by – who knows? – Vermeer or Rembrandt.


Lives and works in London, UK


War and Pieces, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Den Haag, NL
War and Pieces, Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, DE
Croome Park redefined, Installation piece for National Trust, Croome, Worcester, UK

CHengju International Craft Biennale, Cheongju, SK


Fragments, Chateau de Nyon, Nyon, FR
Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, Taipei
Threads of my life, Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan, IT

Art SOUTH, Southampton Art Gallery, Southampton, UK
War and Pieces, Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, UK
War and Pieces, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, DE
Bouke de Vries: Bow Selector, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK

War and Pieces, Holbourne Museum, Bath, UK


Vernieuwd Verleden, Coda Museum, Apeldoorn, NL
Asia-Amsterdam, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, USA
Re-Animate, Repair, Mend and Melt, Ferrin Contemporaray, North Adams, MA, USA
Blue and White, Ariana Museum, Geneva, SW

Skelet, Museum Beelden aan Zee, Den Haag, NL

Shared, Somerset House, London, UK
My Blue China, Fondation D'Enterprise Bernardaud, Limoges, FR
Sweet 18, Kasteel van Hingene, Hingene, BE
Asia-Amsterdam, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem (MA), USA

Re-Used, Gallerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam, NL

Anders, Historisch Museum, Haarlem, NL
Portretten op Buitenplaats Beeckestijn, Buitenplaats Beeckesijn, Velsen, NL
Beastly Hall, Hall House, Bexley, UK

Vanitas/Contemporary Reflections, Moscow MOMA, Moscow, RU
Mono No Aware, Bo Lee Gallery, Bath, UK
Bad For You, Shizaru Gallery, Londong, UK
This Is London, Shizaru Gallery, London, UK
4 the Korenbeurs Schiedam, Korenbeurs Schiedam
Earthly Delights, Laleh June Gallery, Basel,CH
Waste, Tanya Rumpf Gallery, Haarlem, NL
Lots Wife, Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury, UK
York City Art Gallery, York City Art Gallery, York, UK
Between Dimension, The Prepresentation Of The Object, MIMA, Middlesbrough, UK

CRAFT Raiders of the lost arts, Pertwee, Anderson and Gold, London, UK
The Return, The House of a Nobleman at Cornwall Terrace, London, UK

Questions of belonging, MIMA – Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Contemporary eye, Crossovers Pallant house Gallery, Chichester, UK
PAN, Amsterdam, NL
Artissima, Turijn, IT
Vanitas, All Visual Arts, London, UK
The borrowed loop, Man&Eve, London, UK
Ultra Kyoto, Kyoto, JP
A grand tour of my mind, Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan, IT
Miart, Milan, IT
MurmurART, London, UK
Things I made, things I found and made, Salon, London, UK
ART Rotterdam, Rotterdam, NL
Deconstructions, Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam, NL

Emerging artists, Flora Fairbairn Projects, London, UK