Boris van Berkum - Dreaming of a Mega Renaissance

Boris van Berkum next to Kalki. Photo: Willem de Roon After Ife Journey to the Kingdom of Ife Kalki

Press release
12 February – 3 July 2011

This coming spring, Boris van Berkum, former director of Showroom MAMA in Rotterdam, is presenting his sculptures at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Van Berkum’s investigative journey through the history of art and culture has inspired four groups of sculptures made from ceramics, plastics and unusual materials such as chocolate and sugar.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has invited the Rotterdam-born artist Boris van Berkum (b. 1968) to give a small-scale spring presentation. The founder and former artistic director of Showroom MAMA has reinvented himself as a sculptor. He delved into the history of art in search of works that he admired and that affected him, ranging from images of deities and warrior masks to classical torsos and female figures. This has resulted in a series of sculpture groups in which major world cultures and religions merge into a new, sumptuous universe.

Sculpture Groups
In Van Berkum’s ‘Dreaming of a Mega Renaissance’ some of the sculptures revolve slowly on their axes, while others function as fountains. Each of the four sculpture groups is presented as an installation in a separate display case. The title of the exhibition is a reference to the combination of diverse elements that together form a new sculpture, a mega-Renaissance, as it were.

World Cultures
The first sculpture group is called ‘Waiting for Lord Kalki’ and consists of a collection of interpretations of Kalki, the tenth and final incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. Van Berkum found inspiration for this during a study trip to south-east India.
The second installation is a collection of torsos that were inspired by the classical / antique statues from the Parthenon, the Greek temple. Red liquid flows from the torsos and they are furnished with the head of Jesus. Van Berkum is posing a question with this sculpture group: Is it just decoration or are we seeing Christ’s suffering, up close and personal?
In the third sculpture group, ‘Journey to the kingdom of Ife’, two Janus faces float in a basin of water. The sculptures display a marvellous fusion of Buddha’s belly and the 14th-century art of the kingdom of Ife, part of modern-day Nigeria.
The fourth group of sculptures is titled the ‘Venus Pop-grotto’ and is a veritable ode to female seduction. This work is made of sugar fondant and chocolate.

In the early 1990s Boris van Berkum lived in Prague, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He supported his studies by producing political cartoons and illustrations for newspapers and magazines. Van Berkum is currently working on a variety of art projects.

With thanks to the Netherlands Foundation for the Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB), Rotterdam Centre for the Visual Arts (CBK Rotterdam), the Materiaalfonds, the Stokroos Foundation, the European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC), H&S paint of Beek en Donk and Kunstwacht Delft.