Zij die van hier zijn zijn van hier

Walter Swennen


Painting, 40 x 50 cm.
Materials: Acryl op doek

Collection: Stad Antwerpen, in langdurige bruikleen in M HKA (Inv. no. SCA0039).

A poet before he became a painter, Walter Swennen is known for his radical, experiential, and associative approach to painting. Language plays a vital role in his artistic practice, as evidenced in the painting Zij die hier zijn zijn van hier (Those who are from here are from here), which is both a written painting and a painted text. The ambiguity extends to the text, with the clear, slogan-like message becoming much less straightforward after several readings. Who are ‘those’?

Following four murders that took place in Belgium in the first months of 2006, several musicians, including Tom Barman of the band dEUS, organised free music festivals across the country on 1 October under the title 0110. The Antwerp festival took place in Gedempte Zuiderdokken (where the museum is located), uniting 40,000 visitors against racism, extremism and violence and promoting a message of tolerance. The right-wing populist political party Vlaams Belang felt that the festival targeted them and organised its own counter-festival. Several visual artists joined forces in an exhibition entitled Mute in solidarity with the 0110 festival, for which Swennen created this painting.

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