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Art News:

BOZAR: Constant Permeke

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Leen Daems

0032 2 507 83 89


23 rue Ravenstein, 1000 Bruxelles

Constant Permeke

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his death, BOZAR presents a major retrospective of 130 works by the Flemish expressionist.

Marlene Dumas and Thierry De Cordier offer a contemporary vision of some of the themes explored by Permeke in the course of his career.

11.10.2012 > 20.01.2013

BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, rue Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussel


Constant Permeke, Leonie, 1929-32, Private collection © SABAM 2012

Constant Permeke (1886–1952) could be described as the most authentic artist of Flanders of his time. Along with Gust De Smet and Frits Van den Berghe, he was one of the most important representatives of Flemish expressionism, also known as the second ‘school’ of Latem.


The exhibition presents, chronologically and thematically, more than 130 paintings, drawings, and sculptures that reveal every facet of the major themes in Permeke's oeuvre. For Permeke, expressionism was more an attitude to life than a style. His approach to art was, above all, instinctive: he aimed to make visible the "profoundly human". Permeke had no equal when it came to depicting the hard life of the ordinary working people, from the fishermen of Ostend to the rural life of a peasant in Jabbeke. The intimate "primal bond" that these people maintained with the land and the sea fascinated him. Other recurring motifs in Permeke's work include female nudes, the woman as a symbol of fertility, motherhood, the family, and the organic connection between humanity and nature.




De man met de vest, KMSKA, Foto LukasArt in Flanders © SABAM 2012


Some of the key works in the exhibition are: Vissersvrouw (1920 – Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp), Het Dagelijks Brood (1950 – Mu.Zee, Ostend), Over Permeke (1922 – Mu.Zee, Ostend), De Verloofden (1923 – Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels), Liggende Boer (1928 – Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent), Marie-Lou (1936 – Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp), De Papeter (1922 – Groeninge Museum, Bruges), and De Stal (1933 – Centre Pompidou, Paris).


By enlargement, synthesis, and abstraction, Permeke created archetypes with a monumental and universal character. Despite his strong regional roots and the interest he took in the lives of ordinary people, his work has a universal significance, arising from his constant quest for meaning and the essence of life. He developed an oeuvre, strongly grounded in intuition, that was never illustrative, narrative, or anecdotal. His work has its own aesthetic logic and can safely be called timeless.



Het dagelijkse brood, Collection MuZEE, Oostende © SABAM 2012


Permeke's style is clearly recognisable: rough forms and lines that often appear cubist (“physical cubism”), in an earthy colour palette. He captures emotions in multiple shades of deep colours and tones, making use of touches of light to further sharpen the focus. There are no external sources of light, rather an inner light that gives an emotional tension to the darker, often almost black areas. Strikingly, it was in the periods that were darkest for him in personal terms (as when he lost his wife and his two children), that he reacted by seeking out the light in his art.


His technique was distinctive: a mixture of painting and drawing, often with charcoal, watercolours enhanced with colour pigments, and chalk mixed with turpentine. His monumental force led him to sculpture, in which he concentrated almost exclusively on the female nude. There is, however, no idealisation of human beauty in Permeke: the focus is on universal humanity.




Over Permeke, Collection MuZEE, Oostende, © SABAM 2012


Permeke's works are flanked by those of two internationally renowned artists: Marlene Dumas and Thierry De Cordier. Their work offers a contemporary view on some of the themes that so moved Permeke: the nude and the natural landscape. Marlene Dumas (born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa) exhibits ten drawings of nudes, while Thierry De Cordier (born in 1954 in Oudenaarde, Belgium) presents eight new landscape paintings, created specially for this exhibition.


The curator of the exhibition is Willy Van den Bussche, honorary chief curator of the PMMK - Museum of Modern Art Ostend (today known as Mu.ZEE) and the Constant Permeke Museum in Jabbeke.


BOZAR will not be the only art institution to commemorate Permeke this autumn: the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp will present, in its Queen Fabiola Hall, De Modernen: Rondom Permeke (15 September 2012 > 24 February 2013), while the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels will host Permeke, Van den Berghe, and De Smet and Expressionism.



Curator: Willy Van den Bussche

Production: BOZAR EXPO in collaboration with the Royal Museum for Fine Arts Antwerp

Sponsor: Puilaetco Dewaay



Visitor information


Constant Permeke.

Retrospective in conversation with Marlene Dumas and Thierry De Cordier.


Address: BOZAR - Centre for Fine Arts, Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussels

Dates: 11 October 2012 > 20 January 2013

Opening hours

Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 am > 6 pm

Thursdays, 10 am > 9 pm

Closed don Mondays

Tickets: € 10,00 (discounts on www.bozar.be)

More info and press images: http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=12489


Overview of the exhibition calendar:

Autumn at the Centre for Fine Arts




20 Models: Young Belgian Architecture

27.09.2012 > 25.11.2012

N|I|C|H|E is a selection of 20 promising young architectural practices, with 20 models of one of their first large-scale projects and 20 talks. Inaugurated in 2008, this series of micro-exhibitions and talks is coming to an end. BOZAR ARCHITECTURE and A+ are celebrating their four seasons by publishing a catalogue of the series and inviting the 20 practices to bring together, for one last time, the models of their achievements.

Tickets: Free entrance

More info and press images: http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=11661





Charif Benhelima: Polaroids 1998-2012

04.10 > 18.11.2012

In October BOZAR presents a small solo exhibition of Charif Benhelima. A unique collection of works forming different series: Harlem on my Mind - I was, I am: 1999 - 2002, Semites: 2003 - 2005, Black-Out: (2005-present) and Roots : (2008 - present) shown for the first time in Belgium. These 280 Polaroids offer a nearly complete overview of his work.

Tickets: Free entrance

More info and press images: http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=12616




DABA Maroc: Faouzi Laatiris & Hassan Darsi

12.10.2012 > 13.01.2013

In the context of the Brussels festival Daba Maroc, the Centre for Fine Arts invites two contemporary Maroccan artists. The cruel beauty of the everyday life is brought up by Faouzi Laatiris through the help of mirrors, tapestries and gardens. Hassan Darsi creates a link between art and social life in his installations, interventions, films and sculptures.

Tickets: Free entrance

More info and press images: http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=12644




Jules Wabbes: Retrospective

17.10.2012 > 13.01.2013

BOZAR ARCHITECTURE and A+ present the first retrospective exhibition to be devoted to Jules Wabbes, one of the most famous of post-war Belgian furniture designers. Wabbes is known above all for his collaboration to the projects of Foncolin and Glaverbel. As well as original drawings by Jules Wabbes, the exhibition includes other contemporary documents and unique pieces of furniture.

Tickets: € 8,00 (discounts on www.bozar.be)

More info and press images: http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=11662




North-South Rail Connection – Ideas competition

07.12.2012 > 27.01.2013


Variously seen as a technical exploit, an urban wound, an asset, or a scar, the link constructed a few decades ago between the North and South railway stations in Brussels continues to divide opinions today. Belgium’s busiest section of railway line, the connection is now close to saturation point. With a view to planning for the future of this underground but essential aspect of mobility and life in Brussels, a number of architectural practices have been invited to take a look at the issues.

Tickets: Free entrance

More info and press images: http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=11663





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