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3D-Printed Sculpture Reinvents Rubenesque Women as Bulging, Fleshy Forms

Nick Ervinck's 'Sniburtad' turns Rubens' sensuous forms into a grotesque but mesmerizing 3D-printed sculpture and abstract animation.

by Kevin Holmes
22 December 2014, 2:30pm


Sniburtad. GIF by Kevin Holmes

There's something biological yet alien about the bulbous form of Belgian artist Nick Ervinck's Sniburtad, a 3D-printed sculpture and animated video exploring the concept of voluptuousness. Taking as inspiration Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens and the curvaceous women in his paintings that have come to be known as Rubenesque, it looks and sounds a bit like a beating heart, but not a human one—and the way it pulsates and bulges is grotesque, but you can't take your eyes off it.

"There is an apparent tension between the round forms and the fragile structure surrounding it," explains Ervinck. "Instead of being the internal support structure (endoskeleton), the skeleton is situated outside of the body tissue (exoskeleton). This only amplifies the effect of a bulging formlessness that seems to extend itself in space." 

The project dates back to 2011 but Ervinck has recently uploaded the video version online, which you can see above. The sculptural version was designed using 3D software before being printed using selective laser sintering (SLS). "This work tries to create a dialogue between old and new," Ervinck says in the video's accompanying text. "It shows us how new technologies can be used to renew or reinvent the art historical tradition."


Still from video next to detail from Rubens' 'The Disembarkation at Marseilles'

Ervinck says he uses 3D software and copy and paste techniques to create new forms, using shapes, textures and images from many different sources and artists including Jean Arp, manga, Barbara Hepworth, basilicas, corals, Henry Moore, Rorschach inkblots, dinosaurs, and anatomical parts. "I am particularly interested in the ways computers can be used in the realisation of new, organic and experimental (negative) spaces and sculptures within sculptures and how the tension between blobs and boxes is articulated during the digital designing process," Ervinck explains.


The 3D-printed 'Sniburtad.' Via

Click here to learn more about Nick Ervinck's Sniburtad.

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