Bruno Vekemans - Retrospectiva
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About the book:
A retrospective of Antwerp artist Bruno Vekemans (1952) opened on 1 October, 2015 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana. The exhibition gave an overview of Vekemans’ work of the last 15 years and showed his most recent Havana series for the first time. The Havana series is the successor of the Kinshasa-Congo series that the artist worked on from 2006 until 2007. In this series, Vekemans painted gripping portraits of ordinary people he met in the streets of Congo’s capital. Fascinated by the link between Congolese culture and the Afro-Cuban tradition, Vekemans travelled to Havana in 2007 to once again photograph and paint the ordinary man in the street; this time in Cuba.
With the retrospective in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the 58-year-old Vekemans finally gets the international credit he deserves. This moment was commemorated in a hardcover book that allows fans to look back on Vekemans’ work, again and again.
About the artist:
Bruno Vekemans is part of a long tradition of Flemish painters, a tradition that has never been broken, not even when painting was pronounced dead. Vekemans does belong to the generation that had the most difficult time in being accepted as a painter. The American art critic, Irving Sandler, wrote about this period: “Painting in the pluralistic era has the advantage that the artists can paint more freely than ever before, with the basic assumption that every style will receive a more or less honest valuation. The disadvantage is really that artists, even the most individual and skilled among them, are finding it increasingly difficult to attract the attention of the art world and to be acknowledged by it.”
Vekemans’s oeuvre has, from the moment that he began to draw his follies in the 1970s until today, shown a coherent progression, an almost logical evolution in which only one large digression was noticeable. This digression came around 1989, when he decided to let painting be painting and not to make any excuses for extra-pictorial stories, criticisms or analyses. He continued to radically defend this choice for the following 20 years. But even this digression did not prevent continuity from being present in his work. He continues to use the collage technique, not only technically, as a preliminary design for his paintings, but – subconsciously – philosophically, like sampling the visual culture of his times.
He is a pictorial odd-job man, in the same sense respectfully intended by Claude Lévi-Strauss in La Pensée Sauvage, a man who works with his hands and brings together existing objects to make something new. Vekemans is no philosopher, no highly-trained virtuoso painter, not a part of the artistic beau monde, but rather a worker who is fascinated by the images of his times, which he obsessively repeats and resumes in a sober, harmonious palette. And he once again dares to do what has been forbidden in the art of the 20th century for so long: experience pleasure when painting.
- Jan de Zutter
|240 x 300 mm
|NL, EN, FR, SP
|Number of pages: