Jan Cox

Jan Cox and his friend at the Van Dyckkaai

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In September 2019, Campo & Campo organized the exhibition ‘Jan Cox and the friends of the Van Dijckkaai’. In honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth, there will be a retrospective of the oeuvre of Jan Cox. The exhibited works will present all the stages in his career, from the early portraits and still lifes from his first Antwerp period to a work from his last painting cycle ‘Martelgang’ [Calvary].

One of the masterpieces is the ‘Orpheus’ series, more specifically the original paintings for the large format series of the same name. This painting cycle from 1960 represents Cox’ ideal of the tragic life of an artist. It also shows a fine example of Cox as a thinker, philosopher and intellectual, a facet of the artist we would certainly like to draw attention to.

Hence we are very pleased with the collaboration with the philosophy house ‘Het zoekend hert’ [The searching deer], that will organize a guided tour in the gallery on September 15th 2019, highlighting the thinker behind the artist. In the context of the musical-philosophical anniversary celebration for the 10th anniversary of the philosophy house, Prof. Willem Elias  focusses specifically on the myth of Orpheus and on the mythological in Cox’s artistic process.

His most famous painting cycle, the ‘Iliad’, likewise shows Cox as a pictor doctus. Several of the fifty canvasses he made after Homer’s epic poem are on view in the exhibition.

An absolute masterpiece of from this series, de ‘Bloedregen’ [Blood rain] will be on display.

Most of the exhibited works are privately owned and some are presented to the public for the first time.

In 1945 Cox and Marc Mendelson amongst others established the group Jeune Peinture Belge. The exhibition Jan Cox en de vrienden van de Van Dijckkaai is part of a series of exhibitions, after Louis Van Lint and Gaston Bertrand, aiming to draw more attention to this group of young artists looking for innovation at that time.

During the war years Cox shared his atelier with Mendelson at the Ernest Van Dy

ckkaai. Later Josef Ongenae would join them at this address, just as many other people in hiding did. Ongenae took his first painting classes with Cox at this address.

The bond between these three artists was never really emphasized, although it is significant for Cox’ attitude during the war and for the pluralism, which is central in his thinking about religion and philosophy. Hence, from this perspective we have given the work of Mendelson and Ongenae a place in this exhibition.