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Abstract landscapes in Jette: Solo show by late Belgian artist Renée Demeester
Belgian abstract artist Renée Demeester (1927-2022) – the star of Jette Abstract Art Museum’s new exhibition – wanted “to create another world”.
Abstract landscapes is a beautiful collection of some 20 landscapes that evoke anything from the lush greenery of her birthplace in Katanga, Congo, to the Pajottenland prairie (Lennik-Saint-Quentin) where she lived for 10 years with her partner, the sculptor Marcel Arnould, until his suicide in 1974.
With styles ranging from angular and figurative to wild, swirly abstract, most of her paintings have Belgian origins. Demeester particularly loved to represent the Belgian coast – her father came from Ostend – and her favourite colours were red and green.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘The Flea’, Demeester was a constant fixture in Belgium’s surrealist set that included artist Marcel Broodthaers, writer/photographer Marcel Mariën and poet Marcel Lecomte.
Her influences range from Cézanne and Spilliaert to a fourth Marcel, her husband. Jealousy of his wife’s growing success – paintings also being easier to sell than sculpture – arguably contributed to Arnould’s death, according to Chloé Thibault. She co-authored with museum curator André Garitte and Stefan Wouters, a beautiful book about the exhibition.
This stunning show full of geometric, exuberant colour not only reflects the museum’s other highlights by Arnauld and Demeester’s friends Victor Servranckx and Félix De Boeck, but also forms a perfect accompaniment to a visit of the ‘other René’, Magritte’s lovingly renovated house and exhibition next door.
As Belgium’s first space dedicated to abstract art, adjacent to this temple of surrealism, the dual museum presents two of the 20th century’s most important and fascinating artistic movements.
Renée Demeester. Abstract landscapes
René Magritte Museum & Abstract Art Museum
Until 3 September 2023, Wed-Sun 10.00 – 18.00
Rue Esseghem 137
Photos: Renée Demeester; Valses des éléments n°2, 1972. Coll. Museum of Abstract Art, Jette-Brussels