Jan Van Oost

° 1961

Born in Deinze (BE), lives in Ghent (BE).

The visual artist Jan Van Oost (°1961) lives and works alternately in Ghent and Tuscany. Since the mid-eighties, he has been making drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations, in which temptation and transience are recurring key terms.

The entirety of his oeuvre is a symbolic interpretation of human existence, which he calls up through recognisable objects that express specific feelings: A coffin, a skeleton, a child's head, a veiled woman's body. The expression of his pictures always enters into an open dialogue with the viewer, who is challenged to face his own fears and emotions.

His choice for resistant, precious materials such as gold, silver and marble stands in sharp contrast with the vulnerability that is exposed. The notion of the end of life is a central concept in his work, together with the ritual of suffering, as a constant warning of our own mortality. Besides skulls and torsos, the image of the woman is explicitly present in his oeuvre.

His extensive series The Baudelaire Cycle, from 2001, includes hundreds of drawings of the female body in many different ways – naked, anatomical, fleeting, fragmented – through which the most contrary human emotions are evoked. Zonder titel from 1993 also shows this game of attraction and rejection inspired by the tension between Eros and Thanatos. A model, wrapped in black, sits huddled in the corner of a room, her face hidden behind her long black hair. The bearing of the lifelike sculpture calls up associations with isolation, sorrow and hopelessness. The person has clearly turned its back on and closed out the world, but we nevertheless continue to look at it curiously. The artist destabilises our view of the body and its intimate tragedy. Van Oost makes empathetically styled work about the lot of humans.

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