If you didn’t know any better, you might think that this elephant was shot, had its tusks ripped ruthlessly from its skull, and left for dead in a forest. But we all know that elephants don’t roam the forests of Europe. Despite its lifelike and life-sized appearance, this fallen elephant is actually a sculpture crafted from wood by artist Kevin van Braak. The emotionally charged artwork was made for the 5th edition of the international sculpture festival Lustwarande in Tilburg, Netherlands, and speaks to the horrors of elephant poaching and the risk of the species' extinction.
The 2015 Lustwarande explores the theme “Rapture and Pain,” using the contemporary sculptures of 17 artists for platforms of social criticism and commentary. As with the previous four editions, this year’s outdoor sculpture exhibition is held in Tilburg’s Baroque woodlands De Oude Warande. Kevin van Braak’s elephant sculpture drew inspiration from the Baroque park and era, a time when importing exotic animals, including elephants, into Europe for display in gardens became fashionable.
Van Braak’s impressive sculpture criticizes both the Baroque era and societies that passively or actively support elephant poaching. The elephant is made entirely out of teakwood sourced from old ships and created in collaboration with Indonesian wood carvers. Visitors are invited to see the work up close and touch the elephant’s ash-colored skin. The installation will be on display until October 25, 2015.
Images via Kevin van Braak