Thierry Delva - Drawings from the Heart: Reproductions

28 August – 22 November, 2015

Thierry Delva, Drawings from the Heart: Reproductions, 2014-15. Painting: Hans Memling, St John Altarpiece, 1479, St. John’s Hospital Museum, Bruges, Belgium. Photo: Kristiaan Dekeijser

For much of his career as a sculptor, Delva has produced work that is one-to-one in scale, whether these are modified commercial refrigerators or mundane domestic objects such as Styrofoam coolers that he has precisely rendered in polished white marble. Although Drawings from the Heart: Reproductions may appear to be a departure from his object-making practice, it is consistent with his on-going interest in one-to-one renderings.

"After I suffered a heart attack in 2005, electrocardiogram (EKG) tests became the primary tool for medical doctors to monitor my recovery process." Thus began Thierry Delva's relationship with a new tool that he has incorporated into his art making practice for the past decade. 

In early experiments after his heart attack an EKG technician noted that the machine's print out 'renderings' varied from session to session when Delva intensely concentrated on a variety of photographic portraits. How this would be manifested when he was looking at art was the subject of Delva's artist residency in 2014 in Bruges, Belgium, at the St. John's Hospital Museum, which houses an extensive collection of paintings by Hans Memling, a Flemish Primitive painter from the 15th Century. Mindful of the longstanding tradtion of artists copying works of the Masters, and the intense, direct observation requires, during the month-long residency Delva methodically spent time in a state of 'deep looking' at the paintings, drawings, and artefacts in the museum while his portable EKG rendered his responses. This exhibition presents a selection of his EKG 'drawings' of specific works by Memling, and a documentary video of the process by Jose Huedo. The grouping and spacing of the drawings refer directly to the configuration of Memling's multi panel paintings.