Exhibition opening: Saturday, 30 June 2018, 5 pm
For the first time in Germany, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz are presenting works by the Belgian artist Jean Brusselmans (1884-1953). A selection of 30 paintings from the years 1931 to 1950 will be on display at the Museum am Theaterplatz from 1 July to 14 October 2018.
Jean Brusselmans was born in 1884 in a working-class neighbourhood in Brussels as the second child of tailors. His grandparents ran the cabaret “Demi-Lune”, a meeting place for anarchists who rejected the bourgeoisie and advocated absolute freedom for the individual. The liberal thinking and self-confidence that he perceived in his immediate environment as a child and young man also shaped his artistic development. He tried to find his own way and style, completely independent of current trends in the art world. Although Brusselman’s acquaintance with fellow artists, collectors, gallery owners and critics, he remained largely isolated in his search for individual expression. At the end of the 1920s, he found a form he was satisfied with and perfected it from then on. Thus, between 1930 and 1950, he produced paintings that show Brusselman’s distinctive style and are among his masterpieces.
In his paintings, the artist depicted the world objectively, almost emotionlessly. The figures appear expressionless and rigid with their sketchy faces. They pursue their activities without any facial expressions: A woman scrubbing the floor shows the same motionless expression as a lady sitting on the sofa or female guests on a beach. The objects in Brusselman’s still life take up the pictorial space in meticulous arrangement. In their two-dimensional, constructive…
vistic painting style with black borders, they are reminiscent of works by the French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Brusselman’s landscapes are deserted and radiate a certain melancholy. The artist’s works convey loneliness and isolation. If a group appears in a painting, there is no togetherness, but each individual figure is only with itself. Is Brusselman’s own life world reflected here?
Even though Jean Brusselmans enjoys a considerable reputation in Belgium, he is not known to a wider public. In 2011, Mu.ZEE in Ostend exhibited the first comprehensive retrospective of his work. In 2018 the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague showed the presentation, which can now also be seen in Chemnitz. Inspired by the Dutch artist Jan Dibbets, the exhibition in The Hague was conceived by the chief curator Hans Janssen. It will be shown in slightly modified form in the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz.
Herbert Foundation, Gent | Mu.ZEE, Ostend | Groeningemuseum, Bruges | Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gent | Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam | Private collections
Saturday 4 pm