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Merci (contre)Facteur ! Mail art #8Jef Lambrecht

  • Exhibition

After exploring the francophone scene and following a brief excursion abroad, the exhibition cycle dedicated to Mail Art stops on the Dutch-speaking Belgian artist, Jef Lambrecht. Alongside the exhibitions of Éric Fourez and Alain Bornain, the seventh opus in the cycle, listed nevertheless as the eighth due to a Dadaist worry over disruption, is curated by artist Chris Straetling who arranged the exhibition.

Political journalist and essayist Jef Lambrecht (Avelgem, 1948 – Anvers, 2016) was also a conceptual artist who applied himself to drawing, painting and performance. His work as an editor of articles and books, as well as correspondent for the VRT, led him to a formal development of the language of (radio) broadcasting and publication. Over the course of his career, mail art became his preferred method of communication. Using letters, newspapers and different media, the artist cultivated a poetic confusion around truth and authenticity, which entailed the diffusion of complex and questionable stories involving fakes and forgeries.

For example, in 1990 Jef Lambrecht decided to reincarnate the fictitious figure of the “Pope of Halensee”, created and incarnated at the start of the 20th century by Paul van Ostaijen, the remarkable Belgian poet who wrote in Dutch. In the guise of this figure, he performed the canonisation of Vincent van Gogh. A few filmed sequences and various objects still exist from the event, which marked the centenary of Van Gogh’s death. The performance also poked fun at the artist’s quoted value: one of his paintings, Sunflowers, sold for $39.7 million in 1987 and a few months later his painting Irises sold for $54 million, a new record. Shortly after this canonisation, Portrait of Dr Gachet fetched the sum of $82.5 million, becoming the most expensive painting in the world.

The figure of the “Pope of Halensee” stands as the cornerstone of this exhibition. “Halensee” is also the name Jef Lambrecht gave to one of the newspapers he conceived. It came after his first "La Lanterne de Lantin" and before "Original Imaginaire", two other magazines that the artist randomly distributed by post. In addition to copies of his magazines, the exhibition also features letters, drawings, paintings and objects, sometimes taken from the BPS22 collections, providing a concise account of the artist’s multi-faceted practice.

Entresol and Annexe
Chris Straetling
Exhibition dates: 1 June to 1 September 2024
Opening on 31 May 2024 - Closing session on 20 August 2024