5 works by Pol Bury not to miss at BOZAR

Although mostly praised for his oeuvres in public space, La Louvière-born artist Pol Bury (1922- 2005) stood out in nearly any discipline he made his own, whether painting, sculpture, graphic design or writing. One of moving sculpture’s founding fathers, Bury left behind an impressive legacy, a large part of which is on display at his current BOZAR exhibition. An exhibition comprising 120 works meant to offer a chronological overview of the artist’s life and body of work, Time in Motion takes visitors along Bury’s Cobra-influenced paintings through metal constructions and slow, unpredictably moving sculptures to jewellery designs and illustrations. The exhibition runs until 4th June, and we’ve compiled a selection of five works to urge you to go and see the breathtaking retrospective of one of the country’s best hidden secrets.

26 œufs aplatis sur un plateau – c.1971 copper, magnet, electric motor, 15,5 x 50 x 50 cm. Private collection © Luc Schrobiltgen, Brussels

After his Cobra-influenced period, Bury moved on to create what he called ‘Kinetic sculptures’, which he is mostly known for, and for which he took inspiration from American sculptor Alexander Calder, who he discovered while living in Paris. The modest intricacy of Pol Bury’s kinetic art resonates clearly in this copper ensemble of oval-like shaped figures, attached magnetically to their electrically motorised pedestal. Ingeniously moving around slowly and unpredictably, it’ll have you hypnotised for hours.

Rectangle arrondi et 8 disques – 1977-78
woodcut on paper, 495 x 655 mm
private collection © Luc Schrobiltgen, Brussels

While mostly known for his sculptural work, Bury equally proved himself to be a prodigious graphic designer, creating collages, books, illustrations and even films – or, as seen above, woodcuts. Using similar shapes as the ones in his sculptures in abstract compositions, Bury uses the fine grain of the wood to give extraordinary textures to this immense ensemble.

Ponctuation 1682 Points blancs – 1973
wood, nylon, electric motor, 68 x 123 cm. Private collection © Luc Schrobiltgen, Brussels

After experimenting with kinetic sculptures for several years, Bury goes on to innovate his style to finally head into his Ponctuations period – referencing the textures and reliefs of the white dots he attaches to the paper thin nylon wires of his works, as seen above. Taking the same unpredictable movement from his earlier kinetic sculptures, his Ponctuations stand out for their sheer creativity, as these objects carry no similarity to anything ever made before.

Pol Bury, Ball on Sloping Plane, 1963 Painted wood, electric motor, 50 x 50 x 35 cm
private collection © Luc Schrobiltgen, Brussels

Bury’s Ball on Sloping Plane, exhibited near the end of the hall where his Ponctuations are placed, shows the artist’s fondness of defying gravity, winking to the surrealist roots of his home country. His emblematic ball form nearly floats on its stand, dangerously and excitingly inclining forward.

19 boules dans un volume ouvert – 1965
wood, polychromed cork, electric motor, 230 x 92 x 32 cm. 
private collection © Luc Schrobiltgen, Brussels

Stemming from the 60s, a period in which Bury’s career took off in full force, with several exhibitions in New York – MoMa being one of them – and the Venice Biennial, 19 boules dans un volume ouvert is a prime example of his first autonomous motorised sculptures. Assembled initially out of scrap wood and cork, they would go on to be part of the artist’s Meubles series. While devoid of all practical function, the reference to furniture still exists and proves once again how Pol Bury managed to make any discipline his own.