Jan Van Imschoot

Les nocturnes des bonnes vivantes

Belgian painter Jan Van Imschoot unveils Les Nocturnes des Bonnes Vivantes/Nightime Revels of Pleasure-Loving Women, a flamboyant and exhilarating new series dedicated to his personal pantheon of the great female figures of history.

Jan Van Inschoot – Les nocturnes des bonnes vivantes, TEMPLON Paris, 2023
Jan Van Inschoot – Les nocturnes des bonnes vivantes, TEMPLON Paris, 2023

Arranged like sequences from a film, the successive paintings with their black background portray familiar faces and more obscure characters: filmmaker Alice Guy, Madame de Pompadour, Camille Claudel, anarchist Louise Michel, Antwerp painter Michaelina Wautier and transvestite deserter Paul Grappe.

This highly intimate vision of history gives Van Imschoot the opportunity to play with the conventions of figurative painting. One of the central canvases, almost 2.6 metres long, close to the format of Manet’s famous Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, combines symbols in the same Manet would overuse them. Alice Guy’s spotlights dangle everywhere in a scene inspired by Tintoretto, where Manet’s flowers and bullfinch rub shoulders with a Chardin stingray, a solar panel and a self-portrait by Van Imschoot.

The canvas dedicated to Louise Michel represents a boat named Constipation, a humorous reference to the anarchistic political background to her activism.

With Jan Van Imschoot, painting becomes a playground for reflection on the triangular relationship between his three greatest passions: art, language and truth. For him, the beauty of painting lies in the fact that it alone can break the codes of language and truth.

A 234-page monograph of his work entitled The End is Never Near (ISBN: 978-94-6230-329-4) was recently published by Mercator Fonds. An exhibition catalogue with a previously unseen text by Barbara de Coninck will also be published next spring.

Alice Guy au pays des merveilles


The artist

Born in 1963 in Ghent, Jan Van Imschoot has been living and working in France since 2013. Jan Van Imschoot’s exploration of the possibilities offered by painting have resulted in a body of work that draws its power from highly critical and dramatic themes and contains references to countless artists, from Tintoret to Luc Tuymans, Goya to Matisse. Jan Van Imschoot places his figures, decors and narratives at History’s margins, using assembled perspectives, strong tones, bodies in motion and brushwork he describes as ‘anarcho-baroque’. His work delves into a number of recurring motifs: freedom, censorship and the violence of political and ideological systems.

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