Jef Geys

Chou de Bruxelles [Brussel sprouts] (Sanda)


Oil on canvas, wooden frame
35.5 x 26.5 x 7 cm
Acquisition in 2016


Jef Geys,
born in 1934 in Leopoldsburg (Belgium), lives and works in Balen (Belgium).

For over fifty years, Jef Geys has used his personal experiences as the basis for an inventory of the vernacular and the banal. His projects involve a reflection on the place of art in society. The artist spent a large part of his life teaching aesthetics in the small town where he was born, close to where he continues to live and work today. Within this local context, he develops different forms of collaborative experiments that question the identity of social spaces that range from the land to the vegetable garden. Since 1963, zaadzakjes has been one of his main artistic series. As their titles indicate, this series consists of paintings of reproductions to scale or in large format of ‘packets of seeds’ depicting flowers or vegetables. The choice of motif and their hyperrealist stylistic treatment leads us to question the notion of likeness and the relationship between image and reality. Through this conceptual approach, with a new topic explored every year, Jef Geys may be said to reconsider the classical pictorial tradition, particularly that of the Flemish Still Life, which he imbues with a more popular dimension. Brussel sprouts (Sanda) as part of the zaadzakjes series is an example of the artist appropriating a symbol with strong cultural connotations in Belgium. Its humoristic treatment echoes an entire lineage of artists ranging from René Magritte to Francis Curlet to Marcel Broodthaers.