This project is part of a double exhibition dedicated to the work of Camiel Van Breedam (° 1936, Boom), in collaboration with Bibliotheca Wittockiana and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation. FeliXart Museum shows the first ‘white’ works of Camiel.
Camiel Van Breedam’s first works immediately earned him an honourable mention in the competition of the Jeune Peinture belge in 1957. Camiel was still in school at the time and was barely 21 when he took his place in the artistic scene. His early ‘white’ works are marked by simplicity and an unusual choice of materials. These works maintain a subtle balance between a painting and a sculpture, in which the artist creates relief and delicate shades within a geometric composition.
Art critic Marc Callewaert, chairman and brain behind G58 Hessenhuis in Antwerp, invited Camiel Van Breedam to be part of this group of artists in order to bring together talent. For several years (from 1958 to 1962) an experimental and pluralistic Flemish art developed there, which was in close contact with international art movements. Unprecedented years for modern Flemish plastic art, in which the exhibitions in the Hessenhuis followed in an infernal tempo. Camiel Van Breedam exhibited there six times in two years.
From the beginning Van Breedam built up a consistent oeuvre, until today. His first abstract works are two-dimensional, in which he integrated mixed media: metal, zinc plates with solder from his father’s plumbing workshop, parts of bicycles and umbrellas on stucco panel, which he later adapted with a glaze of oil paint. From the very beginning he wanted to create a specific texture of the material and looked for relief, always working with materials that have already had a life and thus have a certain patina. In this respect he is related to matter painting within the broad abstract movement of the 1950s. With the artistic input of ordinary objects and materials he advanced the Arte Povera for a decade.
Camiel has a flamboyant presence, with a fondness for red.He is invariably shrouded in red from head to toe, as a child he was fascinated by the wagons of the fire brigade and by the Indians, with whom he sympathised during their last revolt. He is always shrouded in red from head to toe, as a child he was fascinated by the wagons of the fire brigade and by the Indians, with whom he sympathised during their last revolt. He has a greater ethnic interest, which immediately explains the strange but sonorous titles of some white works, which come from African music fragments. Camiel has a big red heart and resists social injustice in the world. Artistically he resists the tabula rasa of the sixties, a period that envisaged a new world with new materials. His ambition is to breathe new life into residual objects, broken and lost. To make an assemblage in a poetic and nostalgic way, where there is also a certain anger and even sadness about the destruction. A red reconstructivist, with ‘white’ early years.