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Broken Sculpture

Claudette Bleijenberg

United States

Sculpture, Clay on Bronze

Size: 10 W x 6.5 H x 16 D in

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About The Artwork

Broken is part of a series of sculptures created in 2020. Bleijenberg began creating this piece shortly before the United States 2020 presidential election. The work embodies the collective experience of the final days of campaigning and election day. It captures the intense emotions present before, during the counting of the votes, and the insurrection following the vote counts.  Broken depicts a nude female crouched on all fours crawling on the ground. The defensive pose alludes to her pain and fatigue. One hand covers her face while the other reaches forward in an attempt to keep her moving.  The multiple openings and deep pits in the surface texture of the piece allude to the scarring of metaphorical and literal beatings. Though the figure is on the ground, she is still trying to get up. She is down, but not down for the count. To fully capture these intense emotions, Bleijenberg turned to the Japanese form of Butoh dance for inspiration. Butoh began in the 1960s as an expression of post-World War II shock. Butoh performances often explore taboo topics such as death, sex, and eroticism through controlled motions and disturbing poses. The dance consists of slow movements by performers in the nude wearing white body paint. Some poses include rolled eyes and bodies rotated inward or in uncomfortably strained fetal positions. The white makeup worn by the dancers on their faces and body enhance the agony represented within the dance. Often drooling is part of the performance. As the dancers continue with their movement, it is not unusual for the makeup to begin rubbing off exposing the dancer's natural skin tones and creating a powerful visual effect of melting, crying, wounding or hurting. Each dance is highly theatrical, combined with periods of stillness and slow actions that focus on the details of aesthetic and movement. Bleijenberg embraces this distortion and intensity in her sculpture. Broken's gesture imitates how Butoh dancers move their bodies in awkward and contorted positions while making distorted facial expressions. The texture of the sculpture imitates the white makeup of Butoh dancers through the rough surface texture.   Much like watching a Butoh dance performance, the unsettlingly visual of Broken is hypnotic and even beautiful to witness.

Details & Dimensions

Sculpture:Clay on Bronze

Original:One-of-a-kind Artwork

Size:10 W x 6.5 H x 16 D in

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Inspired by the human figure, Claudette Bleijenberg focuses mostly on the strength and fierceness of the female spirit. Through her sculptures, she explores the various meanings and interpretations of beauty. Rather than focusing on physical attributes or external aesthetics, she focuses on the internal and embraces the beauty of raw emotions. Feelings of solitude, rejection, and despair often interweave with the voluptuous curves in her female figures.   Primarily working with water-based clay and cast bronze, her over ten years long practice challenges predetermined notions of beauty standards—both masculine and feminine. Additionally, through triumphant celebrations of confidence and uniqueness, she makes statements against societal vanity. Her works reaffirm that the human body and its varied presentations are inherently beautiful. Furthermore, her figurative sculptures highlight the beauty found in the lines and curves of the human body. They also capture the strength and vulnerability found within. By using various mediums and finishes, Bleijenberg’s emotionally charged figures capture how light can enhance a form’s contours and how light and shadow create everchanging angles, shapes, lines, and mass. Works from her Fragmented series, capture the haunting beauty that comes from the vulnerability and intensity of an exposed soul. They highlight the beauty of the tension found in a figure’s curves in protected poses such as arms wrapped around their chest or in the fetal position. Through her Deviant Collection, Bleijenberg explores the intimate connections between individuals both with others and by themselves. Reverent and intimate poses capture unique physical and psychological interactions ubiquitous to the human experience. Preferring to work with live models when possible, Bleijenberg works towards one constant outcome—a final narrative inspired by the model. More specifically, she strives to create organic pieces that capture more than the physical form, sculptures that convey spirit and energy. Furthermore, her sculptures explore the connections between the artist’s hands and the model. And how the relationship between the mind’s eye that allows for a unique experience that feeds the soul. Bleijenberg allows for the story and spirit of the work to be revealed gradually. A measured and careful process allows for the essence of her sculptures to express themselves and to communicate their narrative.

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