Jan Vercruysse

20.09.2009 - 17.01.2010

Jan Vercruysse is one of Belgium’s most influential artists. At the request of M, Vercruysse compiled an exhibition of his work that presents the highlights of his multifaceted career.


Vercruysse’s visual work developed from his poetry. In 1974, he stopped writing poems to concentrate on the visual arts, but he has never completely divested himself of poetic influences and references. In 1984, the central theme of his work shifted from the photographed self-portrait to the sculptural still life. This plastic art often contains references to architecture and the theatre. Columns, panels, furniture, frames, mirrors and various other theatrical elements are combined to form remarkable creations. His oeuvre can be divided into distinct series. Each series is a new investigation of the place of art and of the artist.

The limits of worthwhile meaning

Vercruysse’s thematic collections are characteristic of his method; he develops a particular theme in a series of works. The development of a theme results in an artwork, which inspires another work, which in turn inspires yet another. This continues until he pushes the limits of worthwhile meaning, and worthwhile visual possibilities.


The varied works contain numerous references to art-historical backgrounds. The absence of immediately identifiable content often confronts the viewer with riddles. Besides an art-philosophical journey, Vercruysse creates primarily aesthetic objects. His works of art take us on a long voyage though the masterpieces and artistic movements of the past, which asked important questions about art itself. He does this through his alienating use of recognisable, everyday forms, materials and styles.

The building blocks of a still life

Often, Vercruysse’s works seem to be traces of a world that never existed and never will, but one that still appears to be recognisable. One might compare the artefacts with the building blocks of a still life; objects that are arranged for the sake of art, detached from real life. Present things are absent. Here we see the duality between the real world and art.

Amongst his more important series are the Portraits of the Artist (1978-1984), the Chambers (1983-1986) the Atopias (1985-1987), the TOMBEAUX (1987-1994), the M(M)-works (1992-1998), Les Paroles (1993-1998), Les Paroles [Letto] (1998-2001) and starting in 2004, the Places. Since 1994, Jan Vercruysse has also designed Labyrinth & Pleasure Gardens, of which two have been executed, in Clarholz (Germany) and in Knokke.

Jan Vercruysse’s work has garnered international praise and is exhibited in important American museums, amongst other places. He has taken part in important artistic events and group exhibitions. He has presented solo exhibitions in, amongst others, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris (1986), Kunsthalle in Bern (1989), Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (1990, 1997), the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1993) and at the Haus Lange und Haus Esters van Mies van der Rohe Museum in Krefeld (1995). Recently, he has presented new work at the Brooke Alexander Gallery, New York (2002), the Centro Culturale Vistamare, Pescara (2004), the Centro Arti Visive Pescheria, Pesaro (2007) and at the Tucci Russo, Studio per l'Arte Contemporanea Gallery in Turin (2009). In 2008, he exhibited at the Art Fair in Basel.


Himalaya Golf
Screen print
Edition of 60
62,5 x 45 cm