architect and artist duo gijs van vaerenbergh completes a sculptural investigation of reinforced steel entitled ‘study for a windmill.’ the new public work punctuates the vast landscape of dilbeek, the flemish region that inspired painter pieter bruegel the elder. it is said that bruegel traveled several times from brussels to the countryside to sketch views of this typical flemish landscape. ‘study for a windmill’ recalls the atmosphere of bruegel’s works, which often depict the iconic windmill within the dilbeek landscape, and freely reimagines this iconic landmark.
images © johnny umans
with its study for a windmill, gijs van vaerenbergh hybridizes the spontaneity and ephemerality of drawing and the tangible and monumental nature of architecture. their windmill, like a materialized line drawing, rises above the undulating landscape. the sculpture depicts a half-scale model of a post mill, the three dimensional line work of reinforcing steel evoking a playful hand-sketch. seen from a distance, the work seems to disappear almost entirely. up close, ‘study for a windmill’ stands out against the open skies and shifts with the viewer’s perspective.
‘study for a windmill’ evokes gijs van vaerenbergh’s characteristic play with references — not only references to art history, but also allusions to the meaning of a place. in doing so, the duo further develops an oeuvre of spatial installations that harken the site-specific qualities of a place. this is achieved through the novel interpretation of such foundational architectural elements as the gate, the bridge, the dome, and in this case, the mill. ‘study for a windmill’ is not only a tribute to bruegel’s mill, but also a reference to its significance in the region’s productive landscape, a recognizable landmark that has long since disappeared.