Posted on Leave a comment

Guillaume Bijl (1946)

Schermafbeelding 2019-03-31 om 11.08.54

The first Guillaume Bijl installation/exhibition i visited was the Guillaume bIjl installation he had made for the Witte de With venue in Rotterdam. It was the opening exhibition in 1990 for which Bijl had made . It was Für Garderobe keine Haftung .

In light of the newly created exhibition space at Witte de With, Bijl’s show could be seen as a critique of the spectacular and inflationary nature of fine art production as well as an ironical poke at the profusion of exhibitions and exhibition spaces. Guillaume Bijl’s exhibition at Witte de With presented a survey of his installations and objects from the eighties, in the form of a shopping mall.

Guillaume Bijl (1946) has been testing the relationship between art and consumer society since 1979, when he made his Art Liquidation Project. This work took the form of a mock government commissioned report in which he concluded that, in light of the proven uselessness of art, all areas devoted to the arts should be made suitable for more practical purposes. Since then, Bijl has been transforming museums and art galleries into fitness centers, lamp shops, carpet stores, travel agencies, driving schools, and so on. His imitations of spaces not traditionally associated with the arts are caught up in a perplexing interplay between fiction and reality. Even more confusion is caused by Bijl’s imitations of art spaces, such as his fictive exhibition Four American Artists (1987), or his fictive commercial fair installed at the art fair of Lyon in 1986, which also included an art store selling his paintings.

Bijl ironically points out the connection between the display of goods in shop windows and showrooms and the exhibition of objects in museums and galleries. In his installations, consumer items and museum objects seem interchangeable. Bijl’s logic assumes the complete abolition of real differences in the commercial rhetoric of consumer society.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Guillaume Bijl publications available.

Posted on Leave a comment

Vic Gentils (1919-1997)

Schermafbeelding 2018-09-07 om 14.29.36

Another of those more obscure Belgian artists is definitely Vic Gentils. Studied in Antwerp and became known through participating in the Kassel and Venice Biennales in the mid Sixties, but soon after people lost interest in his art was only known in Belgium. Not many museums have work by Gentils, but if you encounter work in a museum it is probably a “painting” from the series of ANTI-PEINTURE. a series of non paintings which is pure abstract and can be categorized as Informal.

Schermafbeelding 2018-09-07 om 14.38.48

Following years of search and doubt during which Vic Gentils assimilates expressionism and the ubiquitous Picasso and Klee, in 1955 he turns to abstract painting. And when that too seems inadequate, Gentils starts making his famous assemblages. These are indeed abstract compositions, from wood scraps – usually frames from doors or windows – that he combines with appropriated picture frames, thus also referring to the painting as ‘window on the world’. In this sense *Anti-peinture I* (1960) is not really an adieu to painting but rather an evocation of painting’s own shortcomings. Gentils makes art-historical art. With cast-off decorations once sold to nostalgic parochial folk, he forges a new patrimony. In the white modern spaces so desirous of being timeless, his assemblages function like alienating interventions, objects that underscore the historical nature of each object, each space. And perhaps the opting for dark tones was his way to escape from the shadow of expressionism, by ironic reference to that somber style sometimes drown in asphalt.

 

Possibly there will be a time that the works by Gentils will be reevaluated and appreciated but for now the only thing to do is to study the older publications on Gentils of which some are available at www.ftn-books.com

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Felicien Rops (1833-1898)

Schermafbeelding 2018-10-01 om 14.35.27

A true artist of the FIN DUS SIECLE. On a peer with Toulouse Lautrec and exercising his art on the edge of society. Where Toulouse Lautrec found his inspiration in cafes and brothels, Rops was more of an erotic caricaturist who was not a great fan of religion and the church. In many cases he offended the church in making drawings with a less pious christ,

but he was a master in drawing and made drawings that had two layers. The first was the masterful drawing, the second underlying layer was its erotic contents.

His drawings were forbidden for a very long time , but nowadays his drawings are recognized as true pieces of art and mainly in Belgium Rops has received many a retrospective exhibition of which some of the publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Paul Cuvelier (1923-1978) and EPOXY

Schermafbeelding 2018-07-06 om 15.01.15

For Paul Cuvelier comics were a necessary way to earn money. His true heart lay in painting and sculpting, especially nudes which showcased his passion for the beauty and anatomy of the human body. Cuvelier’s fine art was characterized by a sensuality which has been described as “slumbering eroticism”. The same can be said about some of his comics. Even the juvenile heroes in his ‘Corentin’ stories are scantily clothed most of the time. The friendship between Corentin and Kim can be interpreted in the same homo-erotic subtext as the companionship between Jacques Martin’s Alix and Enak. His final ‘Line’ story also featured a more sexy presentation of the heroine. The 1973 ‘Corentin’ story ‘Le Royaume des Eaux Noires’ featured much nudity and hinted at a sexual relationship between the protagonist and Zaïla. By then, Cuvelier and Van Hamme had already created their groundbreaking erotic graphic novel ‘Epoxy’ (1968).

Epoxy, by Cuvelier
Epoxy

‘Epoxy’ was created in the wave of adult-oriented comics, which found its breeding ground in the American underground comix movement. The first generation that grew up with the post-war comics continued to embrace the medium, which opened up new possibilities for creators. Free from the restrictions of working for the children’s press, authors could now aim their work at a mature audience. In Europe, magazines like Pilote and Hara-Kiri were at the vanguard of this new movement. Frenchman Jean-Claude Forest‘s sci-fi heroine ‘Barbarella’ (1962) was the first character that embodied the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

In Belgium, Guy Peellaert had pioneered the comics eroticism with his stories ‘Les Aventures de Jodelle’ (1966) and ‘Pravda, la survireuse’ (1967), while Guido Crepax heralded in the “sexties” in Italy with his ‘Valentina’ (1965). Dutch authors Thé Tjong-Khing and Lo Hartog van Banda released their pop-art inspired graphic novel with the sexy ‘Iris’ in 1968. Cuvelier and Van Hamme’s ‘Epoxy’ fully presented the artist’s qualities for sensual artwork, against a story inspired by Greek mythology. Created in 1967, the album was released by the Paris-based Belgian publisher Eric Losfeld in the revolutionary month of May 1968. It initially didn’t catch much attention, but in later years its historical importance was recognized for being one of the first independent and fully erotic Belgian comics. It has been re-issued in later years by Horus (1977), Marcus (1981), Clue Circle (1985), Éditions Lefrancq (1997) and Le Lombard (2003). German and Scandinavian translations of ‘Epoxy’ were however published without the knowledge and consent of the authors, who consequently never received royalties from these editions.

Paul Cuvelier spent the final years of his life in poverty, and in a constant search of artistic fulfillment. A final attempt to pick up ‘Corentin’ was made in cooperation with Jacques Martin, who wrote the script for ‘Corentin et l’Ogre Rouge’ (1973). Cuvelier abandoned the project after the first pages, which were published posthumously in the monography ‘Paul Cuvelier: Corentin et les chemins du merveilleux’ by Philippe Goddin in 1984. Martin later used the plot for the ‘Alix’ story ‘Les Proies du Volcan’ (1978). Jacques Martin also picked Cuvelier as his first choice to draw his historical comics series about French serial killer Gilles de Rais. Cuvelier was however not interested, and was revived by Martin and Jean Pleyers for the series ‘Xan’ (1978, later renamed to ‘Jhen’). Pleyers was Cuvelier’s pupil during his final years. In an interview in L’Est Républicain in 1993, Pleyers recalled squatting with Paul Cuvelier during most of the 1970s, living in “old embassies, surrounded by homosexual drug addicts”. Another assistant of Cuvelier was the Spanish artist Juan Lopez de Uralde, who helped him with the last pages of ‘Corentin et le Prince des Sables’ in the late 1960s. Paul Cuvelier’s final work included some erotic illustrations for Privé magazine in 1975, and the preparations of an exposition with the theme “Fillettes” (“little girls”). The artist however passed away in 1978 in Charleroi at the age of 54 after years of declining health.The extremely large folio edition by Blue Circle is available at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Tshibumba Kanda Matulu ( 1947 – 1981)

Schermafbeelding 2018-05-20 om 13.34.43

Last weeks bookmarket brought a surprise. There was this catalogue published by KIT on the dramatic history of the Congo as painted by Tshibumba Kanda Matulu / TKM.

tshibumba a

This catalogue/book is now available at www.ftn-books.com

TKM was born in Élisabethville (modern-day Lubumbashi), in the south of the Belgian Congo, in 1947. TKM worked within the period of cultural authenticité in the 1970s.[2] TKM was one of the leading figures of “African genre painting” which had emerged in the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s and which integrated both European and Congolese styles and techniques.

TKM’s best-known paintings form part of a series of 107 works commissioned by the German anthropologist Johannes Fabian to illustrate Congolese history as it appeared in national collective memory. The series was produced between 1974 and 1976 and forms the body of TKM’s work and was used as the basis for an academic collaboration between the two.[2] The result, Remembering the Present: Paintings and popular history in Zaire, was published in 1996. TKM viewed the purpose of the book as presenting the history of his country to a child born in the country. by contrast, Fabian presents it as an anthropological work for Western study.

Among the scenes depicted by TKM was the Elisabethville Massacre of 1941, Patrice Lumumba’s independence speech of 30 June 1960, the introduction of culture obligatoire farming, and the trial of the religious leader Simon Kimbangu by the Belgian colonial authorities in 1921. All the paintings were made at the time of the Shaba Invasions during which TKM’s native province of Shaba witnessed widespread political instability.

The work is historically significant because of the interviews between Fabian and TKM included in the work. In those interviews, TKM subtly critiques the government of Mobutu Sese Seko, making statements such as “What Mobutu has in mind is true – or else it is a lie. But that’s something I keep to myself. What is true is that he started out with ideas that were correct. So he spoke and we all agreed; not a single thing was disputed.”

The work also emphasizes TKM’s admiration of Patrice Lumumba, particularly in the use of deliberate Christ imagery in the paintings of Lumumba, specifically mirroring Jesus’ wounds after the crucifixion. The parallel is so clear that Fabian names the section “The Passion of Patrice Lumumba,” a reference to “The Passion of the Christ.”

tshibumba c

102 of TKM’s paintings were purchased by the Tropenmuseum, an ethnographic museum in Amsterdam, in 2000

TKM disappeared in 1981 and is believed to have been killed in rioting.

So far the history of this African artist. Personally i think this is an important oeuvre although i have doubts about the artistic value. Still …ALL of the paintings have a strong power and presence and perhaps that is what great art always is.

Posted on Leave a comment

Narcisse Tordoir (1954) …painting as an act

Schermafbeelding 2018-02-22 om 09.25.48

A key figure in the Antwerp art scene and also very well known in the dutch art scene because he is an advisor to the Rijksakademie Amsterdam.

But besides his presence in the art scenes of both the Low Countries, he has become world famous because of his approach to painting. Tordoir considers painting as an act and with this he has had performances in France, the UK, USA , Austria and many more countries, thus introducing his very personal approach to the art of painting to a new art scene each tine he had a performance or an exhibition outside Belgium or the Netherlands.

It is hard to find a reasonable priced work by Tordoir, but about 10 years ago i got lucky and bought a tetralogy at a local auction. It is a work typical for the works Tordoir produced during the eighties on which he combined several smaller ” paintings into a unique work of art. This work consists of 4 framed works of abstract figures forming together a unique Narcisse Tordoir. This work is now for sale at FTN art together with the books www.ftn-books.com has on Narcisse Tordoir.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Posted on Leave a comment

Pjeroo Robjee (1945)

Schermafbeelding 2018-02-19 om 14.17.45

The Flemmish Pjeroo Robjee is first of all a writer and secondly a painter. As a writer he is considered to be the Flemmish James Joyce. This is not what i want to write about, but i want to introduce Robjee as a painter to you. Robjee has followed some day courses in painting and started to paint in a very personal way, inventing his own style . What does it look like?… i can not describe it , but i encounter something of illustrations in his paintings. The use of Pop Art colors combined with the simplicity of Botero. Shake it and the result is Robjee.

This mix of styles resulted in an invitation by the Belgian gallery Lens Fine art , where he had at least 2 exhibitions in 1975 and 1977. Both publications with these Robjee shows are available at www.ftn-books.com.

I really do not know what to think about these Robjee paintings, but somehow they fascinate me and must be considered as an important cultural heritage for Belgium since Robjee is an important writer who had also another quality…. he made some great timeless paintings that still fascinate.

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Henry van de Velde ( 1863-1957)

Schermafbeelding 2018-02-05 om 10.37.51

What is possibly not known to many is that they have visited one of the masterpieces by Henry van de Velde in the past. The architecture of the Museum Kroller Muller was done by van de Velde after the family Kroller Muller turned down the sketches and plans by both Mies van der Rohe and Berlage. The new building was necessary for them to present their extremely large collection of van Gogh paintings. Later this collection has become the fundament of their collection which included highlights by many other contemporary artist, but the van Gogh’s are in most cases the reason why visitors from all over the world visit this museum in the forests of Park de Hoge Veluwe.

Schermafbeelding 2018-02-05 om 10.40.49

van de Velde designed a beautiful building with spectacular views on the surrounding forests and sculpture park. Later Wim Quist designed the necessary annex building , because the collection had grown too large for the old building alone and the museum was in need of an extra exhibition space for large objects.

Beside architecture van de Velde was a multi talent who designed everything. From wall papers to kitchen were all was executed with an exquisite taste.

www.ftn-books.com has some books available on Henry van de Velde

velde henry

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Marc Mendelson (1915-2013)

Schermafbeelding 2017-10-24 om 14.37.08

Born in the UK, but worked and lived for most of his life in Belgium. He is considered to be part of the Cobra mouvement, but was not a participating member of the mouvement. Many people know his work without knowing that it is by Mendelson, because the mural in Brussel’s subwaystation “Parc” is by his hand. The development of his style and work is something special because he started as a figurative painter, became an abstract one and for the final part of his life he became a figurative painter again. Personally i stumbled upon his works , because at one time i could buy a large book on him in a remainder sale and became fascinated by his abstract works and maybe i can convince you with this blog too of his qualities as a painter and  to read something more about Mendelson after seeing these beautiful abstract paintings.

Books on Mendelson are available at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Keith Haring (1958-1990)… a special bookmark

 

Schermafbeelding 2017-10-22 om 10.28.13The year 1987, location Channel Surf Club in Knokke Belgium

Quote from the Keith Haring Journals, Penguin 1997, page 221

” I began mural and immediately attract a crowd. By the time i finish, to applause, there are 50-60 people watching. The sun is really hot and i wear sunblock and a hat. The audience is incredible ”

haring bookmark a

This container mural was put of for sale in last auction season and found in the after sale an appreciative buyer. But to attract more visitors for the auction a bookmark/invite  was published of this exceptional piece of art and it is available at www.ftn-books.com.

Below you will find the text as published in the auction catalogue and it is well worth reading.

Schermafbeelding 2017-10-22 om 10.22.46