Selected works by Peter Buggenhout

Peter Buggenhout
The Blind Leading The Blind #26


Mixed media and disposable material covered with household dust

134.5 x 166 x 150 cm
At first glance, Peter Buggenhout’s large fuzzy masses, seemingly covered in thick layers of dust, look like readymade objects, rubble found in the aftermath of a building site, an archaeological dig, or at the scene of a cataclysm – an earthquake, explosion or other force of violent destruction (natural disasters or terrorist attacks?).
Consider his series entitled The Blind Leading the Blind (2008) and Gorgo (2005), charred rotting hulks bearing traces of what looks like steel building beams jutting from concrete fragments. Or Eskimo Blue (1999), which recalls the sun-bleached remains of a prehistoric creature of unknown dimensions, preserved as if for classification in a museum cabinet. Uncomfortably ‘real’, but dissected and presented for study by future generations.
Peter Buggenhout
The Blind Leading The Blind #21


Household dust, hair, wood, polyurethane, foam, aluminium, polyester, polystyrene

117 x 105 x 184 cm
In fact, this and Buggenhout’s other works are incredibly realistic renderings, carefully made in the artist’s studio but suggesting unidentifiable ruins. In confusing viewers, Buggenhout’s sculpture raises questions around the subjects artists choose as their models and the strong influence of projection on the way art is perceived.
The objects here intimate the theme of the ‘ruin’ that surfaces through art history, but in its more direct and subversive mood. These works convey an organic, blurred relationship between representation and abstraction that breaks down perceived assumptions about the way objects are classified and understood.
Peter Buggenhout
Eskimo Blues II (and 2 details)


Treated cow stomach

100 x 145 x 75
But what appears to be there upon first looking remains a lingering presence that the viewer cannot entirely ignore. “I consider my works as analogies. All these analogies bear the consoling thought that they were created by human hands, that they are viable and bring viability that is hardly, if at all, bearable into a chilled, inhumanly large world. These analogies do not operate within the standard artistic norm because they do not intend to pass judgment, preach or pass on emotions. They simply are, there is more than meets the eye, after all.”
Peter Buggenhout
Gorgo #4 (and 4 details)


Blood, pigment, iron, wood, paper, glass

83 x 148 x 92 cm
Peter Buggenhout
Gorgo #14


Horse hair, blood, polyester, epoxy, polyurethane, iron, aluminium

126.5 x 162 x 88 cm


Reviewed by Tara Kilachand, posted on on Fri, Jul 18 2008

Were you to mistake his sculptures for junk, Peter Buggenhout wouldn't necessarily be offended. Coated in layers of dust so wondrously thick and layered, his works, careful compositions of discarded material, are indistinguishable from weathered debris you're likely to find rotting in a shipyard. In a sense, your confusion, and maybe even repulsion, would mean that the Belgian artist had accomplished his goal. "My main intention is to declassify thing," he says, standing amid his furry installations, currently showing at Warehouse on 3rd Pasta in Colaba, Mumbai.

A work from Buggenhout's The Blind leading the Blind series
Buggenhout's sculptures are not easy to view. For one, they are monstrous looking, great crumbling relics that would seem more appropriate placed in an archaeological museum, a long-hunted tomb perhaps only just excavated. For another, they escape symbolic projections-metaphors for lost things and moral decay are futile, and not a little bit silly. They are in essence exactly what they are (dust sculptures) or as Buggenhout puts it, "The only conclusion you reach is that the thing you see is the thing you see."

It is perhaps apt then, that the exhibit Res Derelictae II (a legal term for abandoned assets) will only feature four of his works spread out across more than 3,000 square feet. The viewer is given plenty of space from which to circle and assess the sculptures. Approached from one angle, the works, priced at around €25,000 (about Rs17lakh), and all titled The Blind leading the blind (referencing a painting of the same name by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel), are vaguely recognizable, bits of metal shards and ceramic pieces that peep through gaps in the dust coating. They might have belonged to a tub or a shelf, objects that Buggenhout chances upon on his way to his studio in Ghent, Belgium. "It belonged elsewhere and has been withdrawn from its original context, lost its original shape, and, in doing so, its meaning," Buggenhout says. "We reject it. It's not classified because when you declassify, you really look at things."


Art In America, April 2002, copyright 2002 Brant Publications, Inc.

This two-person show consisted of separate installations by Peter Buggenhout and Berlinde de Bruyckere, a married couple who live in Ghent, Belgium. She is the better known of the two, because her work in two recent outdoor shows in Holland provoked minor controversies: one when animal-rights activists protested "horses" being strung up in trees, the other when a figure was taken for a corpse. In both cases, the works were stuffed fabric and not terribly realistic.

In this exhibition at the Flemish Cultural Center in Amsterdam, there could be no such confusion. De Bruyckere constructed a rectangular, three-level metal-and-wood platform. Scaffolding elements protruded on three sides, as if assembly had stopped in process. The lowest level was empty. On the second level were two piles of used blankets. On and above the second and third levels were huge collections of homemade stuffed animals, usually lacking heads and symmetry. They had just enough trunk or legs to suggest creatures. Fashioned from old blankets, they looked dull and sad, but de Bruyckere seems more concerned with abstracted form than with once-loved toys a la Mike Kelley.

The structure, centered in a vast room, was lit by a single row of ceiling spotlights. Viewers first saw it as a theatrical image, its morose quality amplified by the great shadows it cast on the plain back wall. One person at a time could climb the steep stairs of the platform as it creaked and swayed slightly, to inspect the animals up close. These draped and suspended body fragments recall the early '90s work of the Amsterdam artist Rini Hurkmans (metal storage frames draped with lead-covered Styrofoam body parts) and perhaps some paintings of Francis Bacon as well, although de Bruyckere's bodies are not bloody, just plaid or faded colors.