In the years immediately after the war, to bring a breath of fresh air in the artistic life of Belgium is the association of the Jeune peinture belge, established in 1945, which brings together some young artists offering them the opportunity to exhibit both at home and abroad. The beginnings are figurative, but soon there will be a progressive approach to abstract art. The influence of the exhibition La jeune peinture françaiseit is not foreign to the origin of the movement, however Belgian painting, according to the same opinion of G. Diehl, is more sensual and still carries a latent expressionism. Some painters belonging to the group will continue, even after this period, to make their voices heard.
According to educationvv, Bertrand (born in 1910) moves with constant rigor along the line of an abstraction made up of successive decantations starting from some motif drawn from his travel sketches, very often an architectural environment. L. van Lint (born in 1909) remained more baroque, closer to the vegetable kingdom, more painter, even in the measure in which matter intervenes in his works. The death of A. Bonnet in 1960 put an end to a quivering work of inner life, often inspired by landscapes. J. Delahaut (born in 1916) is the purest abstractionist of the group: his highly intellectual art, with great rhythmic forms, tends to integrate with architecture and present itself as an environment. A. Mortier (born 1908) is a lyricist, an abstract expressionist in the manner of a Kline. M. Mendelson (born in 1915) made all the phases of contemporary painting his own: after researches on materials and white on white, he returned to a figurative art suffused with irony, in which the signs of his long abstract experience are still felt. J. Cox (born in 1919) made a career in the United States before returning to Belgium, where he currently establishes himself as one of the most vigorous personalities of his generation with his very moved painting, halfway between abstract and figurative.
Of Flemish expressionism, very little survives in the field of painting. The great C. Permeke died in 1952, G. de Smet in 1943, F. van den Berghe in 1939, J. Brusselmans in 1953 and E. Tytgat in 1957, and the last phase of their career is far less glorious than the great period between 1920 and 1930. On the other hand, surrealism is still very much alive. R. Magritte, P. Delvaux, ELT Mesens and other artists close to surrealism are still at the center of the artistic current. The great consideration enjoyed by Magritte (1898-1967) did not begin until after 1955, but “his not automatic but fully deliberate procedure has been a point of reference for surrealism since 1929” (A. Breton). Its leçons de choses, unpredictable combinations of disparate objects in situations contrary to all logic, have influenced an entire generation of pop artists, abroad even more than in Belgium.
ELT Mesens, born in 1903 and died in 1971, has produced in the last ten or fifteen years of his life a large number of some of his witty and poetic collages. P. Delvaux, born in 1897, is still alive and working, and his universe obsessively populated by women with large motionless eyes and the gestures of sleepwalkers, continues to enrich itself. In the wake of these masters, but in full independence, the activities of M. Mariën (born in 1920) and H. Heerbrant (born in 1913) take place. The Phases group, of which J. Lacomblez (born in 1934) had been the animator, although it ceased to exist, left the signs of a certain affinity in the artists who had been part of it, who developed a painting of the inner world up to an organic abstraction. M. Broodthaers (1924-1976) had made a connection between surrealism and conceptual art. P. Bury (born in 1922), an independent trained in the surrealist environment of La Louvière, after trying to introduce movement into “cold” abstract art by means of mobile planes rotating around an axis, animated, with subtle movements of watchmaking, metal wires similar to insect antennas, or small palm leaves gathered in tufts; or he used spheres arranged on a surface irregularly traversed by magnetic currents.
Surrealism profoundly influenced the Cobra group through the poet and draftsman C. Dotremont (born in 1922): his “logograms” (a sort of dilated writing, made up of impetuous plastic signs) retain all their poetic ambiguity. A Cobra also draws P. Alechinsky (v. In this App.), With its meandering lines here and there, suggestively, s’affastellano and expand in spots. In his canvases a world of larvae swarms, of somewhat grotesque and somewhat dramatic characters. His inks are traversed by influences of Japanese calligraphy. In clear acrylics he developed themes such as “Gilles de Binche” or “volcanoes”. Surround the main motif with “side notes”.
Some artists remain tied to the fantastic tradition. O. Landuyt (born 1922) occupies a prominent position in this group. His technique is that of a primitive: he raises from the color, and projects in large dimensions, some human nightmarish monsters. Sometimes it is inspired by sections of living matter seen under a microscope. The sculptors v. Gentils (born in 1919) and R. d’Haese (born in 1921) follow a path where the imagination dominates. The first brings together objects and fragments of wooden objects to build grotesque characters. The second, with the “lost wax” technique, blends some assemblagesvery human in appearance. P. van Hoeydonck (born in 1925) and C. van Breedam (born in 1936) also follow the paths of the fantastic, while P. Mara (born in 1920) is oriented towards pop subjects, even if softened and made poetic , often erotic. Ceramist, sculptor and painter, P. Caille (born in 1922) employs, in each of these fields, a refined technique through which he translates his magical universe pervaded with humor. Among the exponents of pop art should also be counted R. Raveel (born in 1921) with his group, even if it is an expressionistic and very Flemish variant of this trend. E. Elias (born in 1936), initially a disciple of Raveel, turned to a precious miniaturist style. On the sculpture side, the very classic but sensual art of G. Grard (born in 1901) and C. Leplae (1903-1961) is mentioned. Of the same generation, the designer J. Lismonde (born in 1908) occupies a particular position in the field of abstract art, while another designer, JM Folon (born in 1934), adheres strictly to the themes of contemporary life. The tradition of socialist realism is kept alive by the restless R. Somville, painter and polemicist.
In conclusion, a great variety of styles, an enormous vitality nourished by a healthy imagination, an acute sense of matter in what it has of sensuality, characterize this sector of Belgian artistic life.