Exhbition Profile: Charlotte Day

4 July 2012 | 7:02 am | Kate Kingsmill

Five minutes with Charlotte Day.

In the striking new show by Belgian artist Berlinde de Bruyckere at the Australian Centre For Contemporary Art, fleshy, featureless bodies drape across each other, torsos and branches morph into each other, horses hang as though crucified. The show's title, We Are All Flesh, makes clear reference to the universal embodied experience; the artist's clear intention is for an emotional connection with the viewer and a greater empathy for the human condition, yet the work is simultaneously compelling and disturbing.

“Viewers do have a strong reaction to Berlinde's art,” agrees Charlotte Day, associate curator of ACCA. “What she is most interested in is the body stripped back to its most profound form.” All this hanging 'flesh' is created mostly through an elaborate process of working with wax that de Bruyckere has refined over years. The wax pieces have been made by pouring layer upon layer of wax into moulds she has formed from casting sections of the body worked from live models in her studio, adding coloured pigment and fusing wax segments together. The enormous horse sculptures are created from resin casts of horses over which she applies treated hide.

The result is a body of work that is profound yet at the same time viscerally confronting. De Bruyckere's vision of the body, Day says, “is very different to the perfect, sexualised body that is the dominant image of the body in our culture. She shows the body as vulnerable, the subject of suffering and inevitable mortality.” De Bruckyere herself is concerned with the metamorphic qualities of the body.

“There is one work in the exhibition titled Inside Of Me that has the appearance of a bundle of fresh bones or perhaps some interior of the body like its veins and arteries. This work is made from pigmented wax but is actually cast from tree branches. It's a good example of the way Berlinde's work is often not a literal representation of something material but rather something immaterial and deeply felt.”

We Are All Flesh runs until Sunday 29 July, Australian Centre For Contemporary Art.