Jean Brusselmans; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Jean Brusselmans (1883-1953) is undeservedly not a household name.

This is probably because he was outstripped by colleagues of his generation as Brusselmans’s personal style took quite a long time to evolve.

The present exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum shows works from the 1930s and 1940s, his most prolific and characteristic period.

Although his experiments and endeavours weren’t always successful, as the exhibition shows, they also brought him to making some nearly immaculate masterpieces.

In every new painting he tries to find a balance in form, colour and mass in his subjects, resulting in his best works in a fine lyricism or a distinguished monumentality.

Whether his subjects are joyful or sorrowful, Brusselmans always avoids sentimentality and overt expressiveness.

Pain, love and joy to him were clearly never a narrative but sentiments that should be worn with human dignity, without decorum but with style, not something to move the viewer to tears but to let him/her discover the glance of them.

For any lover of painting there are a lot of wonderful and fascinating works on show.

Works where you can see Brusselmans trying how to decide about colours and shapes,  sometimes painting over original details but then  making them visible again.

You see him deciding to leave certain parts sketchy or just open, next to fully painted parts. Details become decorations and decorations become expression.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all pictures courtesy to all owners and Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters