Exhibitions

Jef Verheyen

16.01.2015 - 07.03.2015
Jef Verheyen
Axel Vervoordt Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Jef Verheyen (1932-1984, Belgium), one of the most important Flemish artists of the twentieth century, in Hong Kong. This is also the first time his paintings will be shown in Asia.

Colours preside over Verheyen’s paintings. Colours represent the artist’s interpretation of the world and the way we perceive nature and eternality. He believed our perception of the natural world has nothing to do with the factual depiction of natural landscape, and employed colour and light to transcend us beyond mere physical human experience. As the colours enwrap us we loose a sense of spatiality, and everything surrounding us becomes transparent. His work makes us experience light and dark, depth and surface, two dimensionality and non-dimensionality. For him looking was not the same as seeing. According to Verheyen seeing was “feeling with the eyes.”

Throughout his entire oeuvre, Verheyen explored and experimented with every aspect of the visible and invisible world by a simple act of painting. He never gave up on the traditional mediums such as canvas, paint, and brush to search for essence of the world. His goal to explore the theme of light through colours led him to create a painting without beginning or end. The pictorial language is deeply linked with how to use materials to achieve a state of trance. His ability to handle materiality of paint on his own way allows us to have mystical and spiritual experience when we confront the work.

Verheyen adopted the old masterly technique of Flemish masters, especially Jan van Eyck and Johannes Vermeer, to perfect his picture plane. He successfully dematerializes paintings with extremely smooth surface and matte, intense colours. Once he prepared the canvas with glaze he took up a wide bristle brush to apply paint on the smoothened surface. Surface of the canvas becomes so even one cannot trace the borders between the color spectrums. There is no hint of brush stroke or layers of gloss of traditional oil painting. In later years he combined geometric structure and diagonal lines to reveal universal interrelationships between human beings and the world around us.

Recently Verheyen’s painting has been reexamined in the history of art as an important part of the avant-garde group, ZERO, movement. The attempt to go beyond Tachism and Art Informal connected him immediately to the ZERO artists. He met Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, and Yves Klein in 1957 and this encounter resulted in a lifelong friendship and artistic collaboration with them. He collaborated with Lucio Fontana, Hermann Goepfert, Otto Piene, and Günther Uecker among other ZERO artists. Verheyen participated in almost every ZERO exhibition connecting them with artists and collectors of the time in Belgium.

Besides the ZERO group exhibitions, he continuously participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe. From 1947 to 1952 Verheyen studied at the Royal Academy and the Higher National Institute in Antwerp. He wrote a manifesto of Essentialism in 1958 and co-founded Nieuwe Vlaamse School (New Flemish School) in 1959. He was one of the two artists that participated in Venice Biennale and worked on the Belgian pavilion in 1970. Verheyen’s work was included in the ZERO retrospective exhibition at Guggenheim, New York (Oct 2014 - Jan 2015). His work can be found in renowned public and private collections such as Centre Georges Pompidou, Lenz Schönberg Collection, RIRA Collection, Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, and Axel & May Vervoordt Foundation to name a few.
Jef Verheyen
Jef Verheyen
Jef Verheyen
Jef Verheyen
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