Speech Regained

Delilah Tannenbaum in Xaap.com, Monday 28th February 2000, Thailand.

Currently in an artist-in-residence program at Silpakorn university, the Belgian-born Devos has had some time to spend in Bangkok, where he has been absorbing the local sights and culture which captivated him on his first visit a year ago when participating in the EU-Thai "Alter Ego" exhibition. He has apparently developed an affinity for the street dogs, having snapped over 200 photos of them and employing those photos liberally in his new exhibition. 

Entitled "Speech Regained," the new exhibition shows the noticeable effect of an artist trying something new. Boxed into the cozy confines of Pranakorn Gallery, which is on the second floor between a first-floor bar and a third-floor restaurant, the new show has a transient, whimsical feel to it, bearing the hallmarks of an intentionally unfocused gaze. 

Draping down the walls are three-foot wide swaths of silk in various bright colors, each trailing to the floor where the path is continued towards the center of the room by queues of framed color photographs of the dogs of Bangkok's streets. The colored silk swaths are vaguely reminiscent of the sections of a Chinese dragon, but the association is subtle enough that it takes a hint from the artist himself to establish the parallel. The dog pictures have a tender simplicity to them, and the sheer number does begin to form a visual mantra of sorts, but neither the arrangement or the composition of the photographs themselves are particularly compelling, or evocative of either joy or sympathy. 

Posted in the corners of the room are four-foot high metal stands that hold up open silver-metal boxes, in which postcards have been entombed in lucite. It speaks gently of memory, how past events are forever unchangeable yet can become hazed in the view of imperfect memory. 

Hanging on one wall is a metal rack which holds up rows of a special latex artificial skin which has been applied to the artist's own stomach, dried, and peeled off to use as sheets in entombing photographs and newspaper clippings. Here a bit of Devos' past work shows through, as several of the clippings do outline the details of serial murders. Framed as they are in a "skin" that has come literally from the artist's gut, it can be interpreted as an elegant fade of recent memory rather than a thematic contamination, and thus within the boundaries of the new work. 

Related solo exhibitions: Speech Regained
Related group exhibitions: Alter Ego