The art of Jan Vercruysse is based on the autonomy of the artwork and the sovereignty of the artist, and can be read as a reflection upon the ability of art to function in a contemporary context and according to its own conditions. It is an art that questions our interaction with it; an art that investigates the way we see and understand it in today’s visually overcrowded world; and an art that seeks to find, and to define, its own philosophical place within a rapidly evolving world. According to Jan Vercruysse, art no longer has a place in this world. As a result, he seeks, through his work, a new place for art and new conditions in which to work. His earliest photographic works recreated historical subjects, such as self-portraits, still lifes and mythological scenes. Gradually, he evolved a sculptural vocabulary of narrow rooms, empty frames and bases without objects. The sacred spaces created by Vercruysse in these works are known as Chambres or Tombeaux and represent the artist’s last-ditched attempts to create art that refers only to itself. His later works, such as plaster pianos, blue Murano glass musical instruments and bronze and ceramic turtles, achieve a perfect equilibrium between conceptual conviction and aesthetic concerns, and also reflect a real pleasure of making.
Jan Vercruysse (b. 1948, Ostend, Belgium) lives and works in Brussels. He is considered as one of Belgium’s most influential artists. His work is part of many important American and European museum collections. Solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle, Bern (1989); Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (1990, 1997); the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1993) and Mies van der Rohe's Museum Haus Lange and Haus Esters in Krefeld (1995). Recently, he was the subject of a major retrospective at Museum M in Leuven, Belgium (2009). Public works include Labyrinth & Pleasure Garden #23, Knokke, Belgium (2008) and Labyrinth & Pleasure Garden #10, Clarholz, Germany (2006).
text by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Pascal Rousseau and Jan Vercruysse, published by Museum M, Leuven, 2009, 320 pages, Dutch and French
text by Alain Cueff, published by Xavier Hufkens, 1999, 40 pages, English
essay by Pier Luigi Tazzi, published by Yves Gevaert, Ludion and Xavier Hufkens, 1997, 192 pages, English
published by Ludion, 1989, 53 pages, English