Jean-François Octave

° 1955

Lives in Brussel (BE).

Jean-François Octave studied architecture at the Saint-Luc Institute in Brussels before pursuing his studies at La Cambre, where he graduated in 1979. During his training, he collaborated in the form of graphic design with magazines and reviews, mainly in Belgium, including the famous Soldes. Fins de Séries. Interested in all artistic domains, he works alongside the artist collective Puzzle in Charleroi and the electronic music group Der Plan (1). He also participated in the creation of the record label Factory Benelux (2) and designed several record covers for the label “Disques du Crépuscule”.

In the early 1980s, the artist discovered painting and made numerous trips, publishing the stories in the form of book-objects or fanzines in a single edition; this aspect of his work makes him one of the special figures of the Belgian punk scene. In 1986 he was invited to represent Belgium at the Venice Biennale, where he exhibited a monumental fresco composed of 300 paintings. Jean-François Octave has also been solicited several times for projects in the public space, including the Heysel metro stations in Brussels and La Madeleine in Charleroi. He has also designed several scenographies for exhibitions and shows.

Jean-François Octave’s work associates, without hierarchy, writing, drawing and painting, to nourish a mixture between memory, reality and fiction. His personal history juxtaposes with the History of the world, which he studies both through daily facts and great decisive events. His images, both playful and serious, appear immediately accessible, before becoming more dense and complex, revealing strata of meanings. They are arranged like interchangeable puzzle pieces and allow him to combine images and texts, photos and drawings, from where their formal and existential obsessions emerge. While the principle of cinematographic editing is the technical engine behind his work, his formal style appears as a late form of Belgian Pop Art, which borrows from comics or advertising their immediate evidence and their force of spontaneous seduction.

  1. Der Plan was formed in 1979 in Düsseldorf by Moritz Reichelt, Kai Horn and Frank Fenstermacher. This group is a pioneer of New Wave in Germany.
  2. Founded in Brussels in 1980 by Tony Wilson, Michel Duval and Annik Honoré, Factory Benelux is the Belgian subsidiary of the independent music label Factory Records, whose activity is closely linked to Plan K.

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