Posted on Leave a comment

José Vermeersch (1922-1997)

Schermafbeelding 2020-03-25 om 11.29.17

One of the only sculptors from Belgium who has made a name for himself during the second half of last century. Of course for me the best during those years is Walter Leblanc, but although his work is completely different the sculptures by Vermeersch rate for me personally almost as high as the ones by Leblanc and he certainly is one of the best from Belgium of the lastFifty years. The title of the book that is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com is BEELDBOUWER and reflects the way Vermeersch “builds” his sculptures, which are constructed from different kinds of ceramic parts.

The individual parts are controlled and shaped until they enter the oven at 1200 Celsius. After that the fire shapes the surface and makes the “skin” of the ceramics dustier, sandy more experimental. With some sculpturen “props” are added like hair, sticks and beads., but always the shape and structure in the end is a typical Vermeersch sculpture.

Posted on Leave a comment

Belgium Covers

There is no country in Europe that is so patriotic in its covers as Belgium. Many of the publications used for fairs and Biennales use the national colors of Belgium and the series of Europalia publications is inspired by the national colors of the country which is the guest country of Belgium museums, but still there is always a hint of the national colors to be found . I tried to find equivalents for France and the Netherlands, but apart from an occasional catalogue you can count the publication on the fingers of one hand.

Here are some examples which are now available at http://www.ftn-books

Posted on Leave a comment

Marie-Jo Lafontaine (1950)

Schermafbeelding 2019-10-01 om 16.30.41

An artist who’s works i encounter regularly whenever i visit a European museum is Marie-Jo Lafontaine. Hardly known outside Europe but one of the better known contemporary artists since her Documenta appearance in 1987. The famous Kassel exhibition was at that time curated by Rudi Fuchs and Lafontaine made a name for herself with Larmes d’Acier

This does not mean that her works before 1987 were not interesting. They certainly were , but Video related art is not the most accessible kind of art and these installations by Lafontaine . are no exception. Still the importance of her works is recognized by many and one hopes that a retrospective will be held in the near future. Showing the true quality of her poetic video art.

there are some Marie-Jo Lafontaine books available at http://www.ftn-books.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Stephan Vanfleteren (1969)

Schermafbeelding 2019-08-12 om 13.45.19

the first time i encountered work by Stephan Vanfleteren wat at the UNSEEN fair some 4 years ago. He was presented with large Bunker photographs at a gallery of which i do not remember the name, but the composition and sheer size made them impressive. Since i encountered his name many time in the extra magazines and papers the Volkskrant daily included with their newspaper and i learned to recognize his photographs. They have a quality of their own  and one aspect i encounter in many of them is solitude.

Stephan Vanfleteren studied photography at Sint-Lukas Brussels (1988-1992). He worked as a freelance photographer for the newspaper De Morgen from 1993 to 2009, but continued to be involved in his own projects. He specialises in black-and-white portraits and extensive reports at home and abroad. He is currently mainly working for foreign newspapers and magazines. Stephan Vanfleteren is a co-founder of  Kannibaal/Hannibal Publishing and is the company’s Art Director. He has also been a guest lecturer at KASK (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in Gent since 2010. http://www.ftn-books.com has now some of the rarest of Vanfleteren publications available.

toneelgroep maastricht

AWARDS

In 1998, Stephan Vanfleteren won the European Fuji Awards; in 1996, 1998 and 2000, he won five World Press Photo Awards and several Belgian press awards. He also won the German Henri Nannen Prize in 2011. In 2012, he received the five-yearly Culture Award for the Province of West Flanders and the National Portrait Award in the Netherlands. This year, he has won the World Press Photo Award for his series ‘People of Mercy’ in the category ‘Staged Portraits’.
EXHIBITIONS

Antwerp (FoMu & Fifty One Fine Art Photography Gallery), Brussels (Bozar), Ghent (Winter Circus Museum and Dr. Guislain Museum), Charleroi (Musée de la Photographie), Paris (Sorbonne), London (Host Gallery and The Brickhouse), Liverpool (Open Eye Gallery), New York (UN Headquarters), Cairo (Hanagar Arts Centre), Rome (Gallery Gate), Strasbourg (Salle de la Bourse ), Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), Leeuwarden (Frisian Museum), Maastricht (Centre Ceramique), Osaka (Flanders Centre), Kortrijk (Buda factory), Geneva, Dhaka, Zurich, Milan, Verona, Hamburg and Berlin, Perpignan, Breda , Sète, Arles and Barcelona. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Jozef Cantré (1890-1957)

Schermafbeelding 2019-07-15 om 11.28.00

Jozef Cantré is well known in the Netherlands, He is originally from Belgium and lived for the main part of his life in Belgium, but by the end of WWI he fled to the Netherlands and stayed with some fellow artists in Blaricum. It is at that time that some dutch collectors took an interest in his works and acquired paintings, drawings, sculptures and woodblock prints. For me personally i think i like his woodblock prints the most of all. They have a rare graphic quality . http://www.ftn-books.com has some of his woodblock prints for sale ( for more information mail to wvdelshout@ziggo.nl).

cantre kus a

Cantre had a very productive artistic life and together with his brother  Jan Frans Cantre, Joris Minne, van Straten and Frans Masereel he was part of the great “five”. These artists were among the very best woodblock artists from their generation and inspired each other. Personally i admire Frans Masereel the most. His woodblock prints are like comics that make up a story, but Jozef Cantre is a very close second.

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.

http://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.