In 2020, for the exhibition 'Memling Now', we invited leading contemporary artists to draw inspiration from master painter Hans Memling. Belgian video artist David Claerbout (°1969) created the installation 'Wildfire (meditation on fire)' in co-production with Musea Brugge, especially for that exhibition. A film without text, without characters or extras, where branches burn and leaves rustle, between heaven and hell. After having travelled around the world, from Taiwan to Antwerp, you can now temporarily admire his installation again in Bruges.
With 'Wildfire' David Claerbout mimics a burning landscape with expert precision. 'Wildfire' describes a change in nature: a brief and temporary fire that is at once impactful and violent. The mechanically produced film moves between analogue factuality and virtual illusion. The conflagration was reduced to a numerical system of binary codes.
The fire refers to the violent forest fires that are popping up everywhere as a direct result of climate change, but at the same time is reminiscent of the apocalyptic hell seen on Hans Memling's 'Triptych of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist' (1479).
If you, as a viewer, have the patience to keep looking, you can almost feel the intensity of the fire as well as the stillness and desolation of the image at the same time. A rare meditative calm spills over into the body and mind of the viewer, who stands watching his own elapsing time.
'Wildfire (meditation on fire)' by David Claerbout, until 5 September at the Groeninge Museum (room 10).