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.
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.
Born in 1963 in Ghent, Jan Van Imschoot has been living and working in France since 2013. His work is shown in Belgium and internationally. The Ghent SMAK held a major solo exhibition of his work in 2002. More recently, his paintings have been shown at the Dusseldorf Kunstpalast (2005), Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle (2008), National Art Museum of China in Beijing (2010) and Fondation Volume ! in Rome (2012). In 2018, he took part in the group exhibition Sanguine/Bloedrood conceived by Luc Tuymans for the M HKA in Antwerp and Fondazione Prada in Milan. The Roger Raveel Museum hosted the 7th Biennial of Painting on the theme of inner spaces in 2020, where Van Imschoot showed four large paintings from his Interiors series. In 2022, his work was presented in a group exhibition at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem in the Netherlands. The Ghent SMAK is holding a major retrospective of his work, The End is Never Near, from 7 October 2023 to 3 March 2024.
Jan Van Imschoot has been represented by Galerie Templon since 2015.