Robert Devriendt — The Missing Script 3. The Scent of Burning Wood

Exhibition

Painting

Robert Devriendt
The Missing Script 3. The Scent of Burning Wood

Ends in 19 days: January 24 → March 7, 2020

Robert Devriendt is known for his series of small paintings which, through their pictural perfection and tactical aspect, reveal his Flemish painterly roots, while their cinematic and sequential character alludes to the world of cinema.

Using a few sparse elements, he often suggests storylines that can be elaborated by the viewer into a larger story. Aside from the technical execution, the arrangement of the works — which are most reminiscent of film stills — is of capital importance. Devriendt’s approach resembles that of an editor at an editing table.

At Galerie Loevenbruck, the artist presents The Scent of Burning Wood. It is the third installment of the overarching project The Missing Script, after Blind Seduction (Brussels, Albert Baronian gallery, 17 January 2017 — 4 March 2017) and Through the eyes of David X (Brussels, Baronian Xippas gallery, 5 April 2019 — 18 May 2019). While each series — which almost functions as a storyboard — stands on its own, together the series also function as elements in the overarching multi-year project The Missing Script. While multiple references and allusions can be found both in the totality and between the different sections, the work remains devoid of any established meaning. Its presentation can always be reworked into new constellations which the artist has not yet fixed and which the viewer is free to interpret as he or she wishes. In this way, by first making images and only then devising a script, the artist reverses the customary approach. In the longer term, Devriendt wants to bring the different series together, ultimately culminating in a publication.

Like the previous series Through the eyes of David X, The Scent of Burning Wood brings together some twenty paintings in mini-clusters of one to three paintings. Each cluster contains subtle approaches to a condensed drama that always embodies a conflict or enigma of sorts.

The Scent of Burning Wood is entirely set in a natural environment. With this sequence of images of a falcon — whose feathery magnificence is brilliantly depicted by Devriendt — a tent in the great outdoors, and a young girl with a rifle, the artist evokes a mini-drama that arouses the viewer’s imagination. Or as Godard put it: “Tout ce dont vous avez besoin pour faire un film, c’est d’une fille et d’un flingue.” (All you need to make a film is a girl and a gun.) And what are we to think of the painting of a beautiful flower laying on the ground, with next to it a close-up of a pair of pumps — a recurring fetish in Devriendt’s work — next to a burning fire in the midst of nature?

The choice of the actual images, but also the empty space between the paintings, is essential to the meaning of the work. In these times of digital image saturation, the small size of the canvases and the sensual eye for detail evoke quietude and a concentrated gaze.

Sam Steverlynck, translation: Michael Meert