Beyond the Boundaries of Colour in the Realm of Boundless Being 1 For more about the special spelling of “flamand” with the letter “t”, see interview with Dominique Stroobant, p. 233. 2 Cf. articles by Tiziana Caianiello, Johan Pas, Francesca Pola and Beate Kempfert and interviews in this book. 3 Quoted in an unpublished letter from Jef Verheyen to Eberhard Fiebig, Antwerp, 14 December 1970, seen in the Eberhard Fiebig Archive, Kassel. 4 See interview with Jef Verheyen, p. 10. 5 In conversation with the author in May 2010 Léonore Verheyen told how every family trip to Paris always meant a visit to the Musée Marmottan to study and marvel at Les Nymphéas. Verheyen also travelled several times with his wife Dani Francq to Monet’s garden at Giverny. For more about Verheyen’s series of paintings Hommage à Monet (Homage to Monet) see interview with Jef Verheyen, p. 9. 6 In conversation with the author in June 2010, Léonore Verheyen related how she and her father made a number of excursions to well-known places where Cézanne used to set up his easel. This was while Verheyen was visiting his daughter, who studied at the University of Provence in Aix-en-Provence from 1976 to 1978.
PROLOGUE Jef Verheyen was a painter. His tool was the paintbrush, his material paint, his medium light, his inspiration the visible, and his chief precision instruments his eyes and mind. Verheyen painted in order to see, and he saw because he felt with his eyes. With his paintings, he arouses and sensitises the perception of the serene spectator, in whom he evokes a sensual openness and a feeling of connection with the surrounding environment. Verheyen painted an essential distillation of his vision, a perfume of the visible, and his paintings offer their viewers possibilities of seeing something new, remembering things forgotten, and experiencing things they have never experienced before. Jef Verheyen was held in high regard among his friends. At a young age, “Le Peintre Flamant”1 came into close contact with artists, intellectuals and collectors in Belgium, Italy and Germany.2 His friendships and his painting were his elixir. In 1970 he wrote: “I think friendship is the eternal summer.”3 Among friends, he not only found acceptance as an artist and a man, but also the energy, friction and heated debate so indispensable to creativity. He sought close contact with his fellow artists and often visited Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni in Milan, Hermann Goepfert in Frankfurt, Günther Uecker in Düsseldorf and Christian Megert in Berne. Verheyen also sought out artists of earlier times and artistic movements. He liked to drop in at art galleries to admire the Old Masters, Jan van Eyck, Vermeer or Botticelli,4 to commune with Claude Monet through his Water Lilies, otherwise known as Nymphéas5 and to visit Paul Cézanne through his letters and conversations and explore places around Aix-en-Provence, where Cézanne made his incomparable paintings of the Montagne Sainte Victoire.6 The relationships between Verheyen’s friends and their late companion are 67
monography of the works of Jef Verheyen