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“Essentialism is the rhythm of life” — Interview with Jef Verheyen

exhibition in 1960, his interest was mainly triggered by the art scene in Düsseldorf, which I knew nothing about at the time. Yves Klein was one of the leading exponents of the trend, and because he lived in Paris and Iris Clert1 helped to spread his ideas, he had a huge advantage. In those When and where did you first meet the ZERO artists? days, Germany had a thing about Paris. Germans saw Oddly enough, I met the three most important figures in Paris as ten times bigger and better than anywhere else. the ZERO movement around the same time. Not all of them As far as I was concerned, Yves Klein’s Anthropométries2 together, but each one individually. That can’t have been a bore no relation to our ideas. I rejected them from the coincidence. I had been familiar with Fontana’s work since start. As “happenings”, I found them interesting, but the 1956, but I didn’t meet him face to face until 1957 in Milan; resulting pictures never satisfied me. They are merely the I also met Yves Klein and Manzoni in 1957. Manzoni demonstration or documentation of an idea. brought his Achrome (Achromes) to my exhibition at the Galleria Pater in Milan in February 1958. After they died, What significant exhibitions were there in those early days? they were the three who were widely identified as the most I think the most important exhibition of those years was important members of the ZERO movement. That was how “Monochrome Malerei” (Monochrome Painting) at the it began. It was really fantastic! Museum Schloss Morsbroich in Leverkusen, rather than “Anti-Peinture” (Anti-Painting) at the Hessenhuis in Antwerp, What drew you to your friends? Tell us about your where just about anyone was allowed to hang something relationship with them. on the wall. The exhibition was too broadly conceived We communicated very well with each other. That was and totally indiscriminate. “Vision in Motion — Motion in because we had the same artistic concerns. We were a Vision” at the Hessenhuis in 1959 was important for me clique of artists. When I met Fontana for the first time, because it was there that I met Günther Uecker. Uecker we both felt there was an instant and spontaneous conand I immediately felt that affinity that is so vital to friendnection. Fontana was like a father or an older brother to ships between artists. me. I learned so much from him. But you could also turn the whole thing around and ask what Fontana learned Which exhibition was the most important for you at the from me. For example, once he had seen my canvases, be­ginning of your career as an artist? Which was the most he would only buy his own canvases in Flanders. He also beautiful exhibition of that era? borrowed some of my painting techniques. It was all My most important solo exhibition was in 1958 at the about give and take. You simply can’t separate one from Galleria Pater in Milan; the most beautiful was “Flämische the other. You can’t really ask what Manzoni borrowed Landsschaften“ (Flemish Landscapes) in Mullem3 in 1967. from me and what I borrowed from him. It wasn’t just by Mind you, I paint landscapes as a hobby, in the same chance that the two of us immediately clicked. We were way as other people go fishing. I also paint portraits in my pursuing the same ideas, and we discussed a lot of them spare time. This has nothing to do with my work and by letter. We were both surprised to discover that people my painting. on the other side of Europe were working on those same ideas and that there were parallels between their artistic What were the artistic problems that you and the other results and ours. That was around 1957 or ’58, but things ZERO artists had to tackle at that time? didn’t get serious until 1960. When Udo Kultermann We grappled with the problem of how to go beyond Tachism showed such commitment to the new movement in art with and Art Informel. What mattered more to us was to create his “Monochrome Malerei” (Monochrome Painting) consciousness-raising painting. We had turned away from 5

Profile for Studio Luc Derycke

Jef Verheyen  

monography of the works of Jef Verheyen

Jef Verheyen  

monography of the works of Jef Verheyen

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