Jan De Vliegher: Myriad Pursuits
Jan De Vliegher, Els Wuyts
Zwart Huis, MER & Borgerhoff & Lamberigts, 2021
Since 1998, Belgian artist Jan De Vliegher has been creating large-scale paintings based on careful observations of daily life. His work is a synthesis of abstract expressionism and impressionism, or, as art critic Willem Elias likes to describe it: ‘figurative Action Painting within an abstract framework of single-subject or all-over compositions’.
Although unmistakably figurative, his rough and bushy brush strokes reveal a sense of abstraction, further enforced by the baroque and atmospheric aesthetic of his tableaux. There is no intentional narrative, no political message or anecdotal reference; his art mainly resolves around the act of painting itself.
De Vliegher works in a fast and obsessive manner, according to the technique of ‘alla prima’, by which the layers are painted in one sitting, while the paint is still wet, and the blending of colours happens on the canvas itself, not on a palette. He applies the paint to the canvas in one movement, from the shoulder, straight from the bucket, uninterruptedly vital — perhaps even rushed. A joyous play of light and colour splashes from his paintings.
For his subject matter, De Vliegher keeps an image database of over 40.000 photographs. He often finds beauty in mundane situations and banal objects which he finds on the beach, in his garden or in shop windows, but also in ancient statues, noble interiors, precious glass, marbles, porcelain and faience, which he construes as symbols of faded glory and power. Everything is meticulously captured and sorted by theme in folders and sub-folders, after which a selection of these images is digitally edited. De Vliegher carefully manipulates composition, form, colour, and perspective and hereby eliminates anything that is anecdotal, until the specific motifs are molded into a more universal objectivity.
This monograph presents the first comprehensive overview of De Vliegher’s oeuvre, accompanied by a text by curator Els Wuyts.