MLF l Marie-Laure Fleisch is pleased to announce Ronny Delrue’s first exhibition with the gallery, Archive of Thoughts. Following the artist’s recent exhibitions at the SMAK and at the Centrale for Contemporary Art, this show will present only works on paper, which are at the heart of the artist’s practice and are the departure point for all new ideas. With each line he puts to paper, Delrue uses intuition and anecdotes, both personal and about the state of the world, to create subtle, intimate works which betray his mental and emotional state. Although spanning a period of over twenty years, certain themes are represented again and again, creating a narrative in his work which seeks to understand the human mind and his own psychological state at the moment of the work’s creation. The drawings themselves are open-ended and unpretentious, showing the body in various states of being which can be interpreted according to the viewer’s own experiences and their own psychological landscape at the time of their encounter with the work.
In the first room, the viewer is introduced into Delrue’s world through a selection of works from 1997 to 2020. This allows for an understanding of the artist’s evolution, and it also gives a glimpse into the recurring themes which characterize his life’s work. This chronological presentation serves as a sort of archive of thinking, in an intellectual sense, or as a diary, creating an intimate view into the artist’s psyche. Each drawing is done in a very direct and intuitive way, thus acting as a portrait of the artist’s inner world. Delrue doesn’t plan the drawings in advance, instead preferring the drawing to reveal itself through the act of artmaking. The human figure and the use of the line are constants in these works, acting as a canvas and as an exploration of space, respectively. These tools are used to project feelings or personal anecdotes onto the page, with no desire to create an important artwork but instead to pour out some of the artist’s thoughts into the physical world.
In the second, smaller room, the viewer is confronted with a dense hanging of works, which spills out onto the ground with frames stacked against the wall. All themes and periods in the artist’s work are mixed together, creating a cacophony of visual information which represents the mental saturation which is omnipresent in contemporary life. Large circles over the head and body and dots contaminating the figure both represent the overflow of mental information into the rest of the body, parasitizing our physical health with our cerebral obsessions. Figures entangled with wires or lines take various attitudes to their entrapment – sometimes standing tall, sometimes defeated. Portraits do nothing to betray the identity of the sitter, and instead show the interiority of their state of mind, looking inwards rather than outwards. Each figure seems to have their own aura, showing qualities such as vulnerability, kindness, confusion, or strength.
The works in the two rooms at the bottom of the stairs show a departure from the human figure, while still using the line as the departure point for all ideas. In one room, small polaroid photos are framed and drawn upon with India ink. While the photograph will slowly fade, the drawn lines will remain. This is akin to our own memory, which reconstructs details of events or experiences from a few hints that we have held onto over time. The difference between appearing and disappearing becomes harder to distinguish, and we are left to reconstruct meaning from the elements that have impacted us the most. In the other, a series of ten drawings constituting one singular work wrap around the walls. In order to view this work, titled El Camino, one must physically displace oneself, walking around the room to take in the dense grids which become sparser as one progresses. Those walking the famous Camino trail often do so not because of religious fervor but as a way of embarking upon a mental journey, clearing one’s mind and reanalyzing their life with a new clarity and a fresh perspective. This is also how Ronny Delrue approaches drawing – as a way to evacuate one’s mind from unnecessary information and to find a new perspective within ourselves, revealing our true essence.