René Heyvaert

René Heyvaert

Villa des Roses

Lodovico Corsini is pleased to present Villa des Roses, the third chapter in a series of exhibitions dedicated to Belgian artist René Heyvaert (1929-1984). Included in the present show are several cut-out wallpaper works originally produced in the two years leading up to his untimely death in 1984, and destined to be displayed at the eponymous Villa des Roses show in Ghent. While the exhibition did take place posthumously, some of the works created have remained unseen until now. The year 2024 is the fortieth anniversary of the artist’s passing; which marks the time to revisit these pieces that deftly encapsulate his unique approach to art, architecture, culture, and life itself.

René Heyvaert’s practice is renowned for its existence within the space between art and everyday life; indeed, his biography and artistic output are intricately intertwined, if not inseparable. His first professional vocation was as an architect, designing unique projects for low-cost modern houses. In the early 1950s, he traveled to Congo on military-colonial service, simultaneously working on architecture projects and research. During this time, he contracted renal tuberculosis, which would affect him for the remainder of his life. In 1969, after receiving a small disability pension, he was able to leave the architecture profession to gradually dedicate himself to his artistic practice, which included drawing, sculpture, photography, mail art, performances, architectural plans, and publications. Despite the sheer brevity of his artistic career, spanning only 12 years from his first exhibition until his death, Heyvart produced an overwhelming artistic legacy which has been the subject of many important posthumous exhibitions.

Heyvart’s training in architecture is palpable across his oeuvre through his acute attention to the relationship between space, the human body, and the quotidian. As is often the case in his two-dimensional works, he is able to imbue a sense of emotion into the minimal and often symmetrical forms he creates. In 1983-1984, for Villa des Roses, Heyvaert conceived a series of works using oilcloth or wallpaper in floral patterns purchased at the local hardware store or supermarket and transformed into geometrical wall works. Entering into a dialogue with the domestic setting of the gallery space, these works see the ornate, decorative, and maximalist nature of the wallpapers and tablecloths countered by following a simple, restrained gesture of cutting and assembling, thus eliciting a movement, an exchange, between the organic and the geometric. Both the flower-patterned paper and the octagon are mainstays in his practice, whether in his numerous mail artworks and correspondence or a plethora of works on paper.

Selected artworks

3 Villadesroses
3 Rhey1907021 Web
2 Rhey1907021 Web
René Heyvaert
Untitled, 1983-1984

Vinyl wallpaper (9 elements)
62 1/4 x 62 1/4 in.
158 x 158 cm.

4 Rhey1912033 Web
3 Rhey1912033 Web
5 Rhey1912033 Web
2 Rhey1912033 Web
René Heyvaert
Untitled, 1983

Wallpaper on wood
89 1/8 x 89 1/8 in.
226.5 x 17 x 3 cm.

1 Rhey2404002 Web
René Heyvaert
Untitled, 1984

Wallpaper on cardboard
18 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.
47 x 47 cm.

8 Villadesroses
2 Rhey1907022 Web
3 Rhey1907022 Web
René Heyvaert
Untitled, 1983-1984

Vinyl wallpaper (4 elements)
41 x 41 in.
104 x 104 cm.

10 Villadesroses
3 Rhey2404001 Web
2 Rhey2404001 Web
René Heyvaert
Untitled, 1983

Wallpaper on multiplex
29 1/2 in. Ø
75 cm. Ø

12 Villadesroses
3 Rhey1907155 Web
2 Rhey1907155 Web
René Heyvaert
Untitled, 1983-1984

Wallpaper on wood
10 1/4 x 17 1/8 in.
26 x 43.5 cm.

1 2 Rhey1912037 Web
14 Villadesroses
René Heyvaert
Untitled, 1984

Oil cloth (4 elements)
103 1/8 x 103 1/8 in.
262 x 262 cm.

Exhibition views

1 Villadesroses
2 Villadesroses
7 Villadesroses
11 Villadesroses
13 Villadesroses