Jacques Lennep

° 1941

Born in Ukkel (BE).

Brussels artist Jacques van Lennep graduated from the  Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) as an art historian in 1965. He started out as a researcher at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, combining his job with the life of an artist called Jacques Lennep. He specialised in 19th-century Belgian sculpture, publishing the book Art et Alchimie in 1966 and attending the first conceptual art exhibition in Europe, which displayed at the Kunsthalle in Bern. In 1972, he, Pierre Courtois, Jacques-Louis Nyst, and Jacques Lizène founded the Cercle d’Art Prospective (CAP). The CAP artists collective organised several exhibitions in which video and photography played a key role.

Lennep often uses pictures of masterpieces. Using the medium of photography, he recreates the works of art history, a practice tracing back to the Brussels Surrealists. He was also devoted to kinetic art and made multiples in thermoformed and screen-printed plastic. He integrated text, photographs, objects and – as an early pioneer – even video into his work, always layered and structured and hovering somewhere between sociology, anthropology, and conceptual art. Eventually, this led him to begin shaping his Musée de l’Homme [a Museum of Mankind] in 1974. He displayed people in this ‘museum’, such as the sculptor Monsieur Bonvoisin, the football supporter Ezio Bucci and Tania, a model for locket photos. It was his way of making the theory of relational art tangible by establishing a relationship with these people and exploring their relationships with particular objects and the stories that could tie them all together.

The artist also has a bibliophilic predilection for artist’s books and diaries. For example, he spent years labouring on his Devoirs Quotidiens, a diary-cum-journal published as an interactive CD-ROM. Towards the close of the 1970s, Lennep distanced himself from the medium of video, fully devoting himself to painting. However, Lennep’s oeuvre always relates to a new definition of ‘art’ whatever the medium may be. Beauty is no longer the end of the road, which means the work is no longer seen as a contemplative object but rather a tool of engagement, a path towards an expressive whole. Contemplative art transitions into participatory art to emerge – hopefully –  with a more holistic sense of perception.


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