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December 2013


Jan Vanriet – Closed Doors

Posted February 21, 2013 by artBahrain in Ongoing

extended until 24 March 2013 due to popular demand

Mirror Men, 2012, oil on canvas, 73 x 54 cm

Mirror Men, 2012, oil on canvas, 73 x 54 cm

Roberto Polo Gallery, centrally located in the Sablon quarter of Brussels, opened its doors to the public on November 22, 2012. The gallery specializes in Belgian Modern and Contemporary Art, from the early twentieth-century Avant-Garde to today’s ‘narrative’ painting. Its Artistic Director is Roberto Polo, the renowned art historian, theorist, collector and philanthropist. The New York Times described him as ‘The wonderful phoenix of the art market’, Le Figaro as ‘The Eye’ and Art & Auction as ‘One of the ten people who have made a difference in the art world’.

As he has done for many years, Roberto Polo continues to promote Belgian Art with conviction and passion. In 2011, Frances Lincoln Limited (London) published Roberto Polo: The Eye, the 688- page award-winning art book, featuring a selection of over three hundred masterpieces – many Belgian – from the collections which he has formed during the past forty years.

Closed Doors, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition is an important series of recent paintings by the celebrated Antwerp ‘narrative’ painter and poet Jan Vanriet, who represented Belgium in the 1979 Bienal de Sao Paolo, 1984 Biennale di Venezia and 1990 International Art Festival of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul. The Jury of the latter awarded its Special Prize to Jan Vanriet, along with John Chamberlain and Mimmo Rotella. In 2010, the international press acclaimed Jan Vanriet’s retrospective exhibition Closing Time at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium in Antwerp, which was visited by over 88,000 people. Jan Vanriet was represented, among others, by the legendary Galleria del Naviglio (Milan), Galerie Brusberg (Hannover and Berlin), as well as Galerie Isy Brachot (Brussels and Paris). His work is in many major public, institutional, corporate and private collections, as well as in numerous public spaces.

Through a restrained ‘narrative’ painting, Jan Vanriet explores the essential and universal by reducing forms to signs and symbols, using meaningful colours, carefully constructed lyrical surfaces and scumbling paint, almost as if he were inventing a mysterious calligraphy with his fragile brushstrokes. His style, or as the French art historian and theorist Michel Laclotte wrote, maniera, is above all a path which he has taken to express the themes that have obsessed him since the beginning: man and nature oppressed by a ceaselessly unfolding history. Jan Vanriet’s personal history is symbiotically related to his painting: his parents met in the concentration camp of Mauthausen. It is no coincidence that the titles of his exhibitions and paintings often refer to this somber past.


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