Geometric abstract painting. This is the speciality of Peire. I was late to discover this great Belgian painter who was a contemporary of Walter Leblanc, but since i took an interest in Leblanc, soon afterwards i discovered Luc Peire. If i must describe his art …. mix Geometric Abstract painting with a little Pop Art and the works of Luc Peire emerge. The one painter that reminds me of his work in the Netherlands is Willy Boers who experimented in the final years of his life with “hard edge” painting and made some wonderful paintings. I was fortunate to see the Luc Peire exhibition from 1995 which was held at the Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop, ( poster available at www.ftn-books.com)
but since, i only have seen the occasional painting by Peire which was collected some 40 years ago for the public collections in the Netherlands and Belgium. Peires works are not that well known, but every time i see work of his, I find them intriguing and timeless. Peire is one of the greats of Geometric Abstraction and will soon be recognized as one of the greatest Belgian artist from last century.
An artist who i did not know, but because of the excellent catalogue published by the Hein Elferink gallery in 2006 i learned to know and discover ( http://www.luchoekx.be). Luc Hoekx. A long career and some great places he exhibited at passing by without being noticed by me. Entirely my fault of course, but his exhibitions in the Netherlands were scarce . In retrospect i could only discover two. One in Helmond and the other in Staphorst. Not the worldly places one visits to find some great art. But now , because of the Elferink catalogue, i discovered an artist who’s art i like and that made me sent him a message to inquire after 2 works that were on his site.
So let ‘s wait and hope that these are reasonable priced, if not……no problem it takes some years but eventually something will come to the market and who knows it will be mine after the final bid.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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
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
Artist/ Author: Oliver Boberg
Title : Memorial
Publisher: Oliver Boberg
Measurements: Frame measures 51 x 42 cm. original C print is 35 x 25 cm.
signed by Oliver Boberg in pen and numbered 14/20 from an edition of 20