Collectie-uitdieping ® Henk Schoenmakers
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Jean-Jacques Gailliard

The selection of works by Jean-Jacques Gailliard (1890-1976) consists of a very limited and subjective choice from his oeuvre, and forms part of the series of modest exhibitions on artists whose works are present in the collection yet who are generally less well-known in Flanders. In this context, the MDD sets out in search of certain intrinsic qualities in the oeuvre of the artist. The artistic career of the Brussels artist Jean-Jacques Gailliard covers roughly seventy years. His father Franz Gailliard was a well-known painter, and Jean-Jacques Gailliard grew up in an artistic environment. After a symbolist period in the 1910s and a constructivist period in the 1920s, he developed a highly personal visual language, which he adheres to for the remainder of his career. He calls his style ‘surimpressionism’. He saw his art as the synthesis between the material sun of the Impressionists and the spiritual sun, the fusion of the internal and the external. He has, throughout his career, worked around aspects of heaviness, of shadows of the past; using graphic silhouettes of persons and objects, translucent images, ... He experiments with abstraction without however ever abandoning figuration. By applying lines and colour fields in a similar manner on various plans, he creates an image in which perspective and proportions are blurred in favour of a pictorial rhythm. His choice of subjects is wide and diverse: street scenes, portraits, still lifes, interiors, mythological scenes, dreams, ... He also experiments with the use of colour and the application of paint. Works that seem thematically or technically related are often painted years apart.

Jean-Jacques Gailliard, roguish, mysterious, with a strong intellectual character, searching for the meaning of life and things, with works in which the pictorial is bestowed with literary meaning, has left an oeuvre whose deeper meaning is not always easily decipherable. An important source of inspiration was the Swedish theologian Emmanuel Swedenborg, who wrote books about life after death and the mind leaving the body. The colour white plays a prominent role in the work of Jean-Jacques Gailliard and refers to Swedenborg’s idea that sees white as the colour of death and new life. The presence/absence of the human figure in the interiors and still lifes and the search for the essence of things are expressions of Gailliards' thinking on the subject. The many animated conversations with friends like James Ensor, Michel de Ghelderode or Victor Servranckx were often a source of inspiration as well. Socio-critical themes are often implicitly present in his work; take for example the Cyclopes which represent the one-dimensional gaze. It is, however, in the first place the joy and the love of drawing and painting that have inspired his work. His love for woman, his affection for his family, gaining knowledge through literature, the intense friendship with colleagues and acquaintances, ... everything finds its place in his work.

The exhibition Jean-Jacques Gailliard ran from June 4, 2006 to July 16, 2006.

For more information, see the issue of Museum doorDacht 3.

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