Jacqueline de Jong is a key figure in the post-war avant-garde. In her exuberant style, expressive yet realistic, her work bears witness to sexual liberation and unhindered eroticism.
Born in the Netherlands in 1939, Jacqueline de Jong lived in both Amsterdam and Paris.
WIELS gallery is presenting an important retrospective of the artists work – the show is called The Ultimate Kiss. It will run until 15 August.
I caught up with Devrim Bayar – the curator at WIELS – for a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibitoin.\
This is a retrospective of De Jong’s career – organised thematically not chronologically. Why did you choose a thematic approach as the way to present this exhibition?
The way that the show is structured, you can choose a chronological path, but it’s optional. We wanted to give people the opportunity to explore the oeuvre of the artist in different ways.
Jacqueline has always gone back and forth between different periods of her work. You can find some recurring motifs and subjects throughout the work, so it isn’t necessary to start from the beginning.
We felt that it was interesting to group together different works that could speak to each other – through topics, colours, and the aesthetics that she was using at different moments in time.
The work of Jacqueline is very free-spirited – she never really stuck to a specific style. We wanted to respect that freedom and not stick to a classical way of approaching her work.
De Jong is known for sexual liberation and unhindered eroticism – is this an adults-only kind of show?
Sexuality is very present in her work. She grew up in a time when sexual liberation was challenging western culture, and she was very active within the social revolutions of her time.
It’s not an adults only exhibition – there is sexuality and violence, but there is always humour in the works and it remains quite light, it doesn’t feel violent.
De Jong was based in Amsterdam and Paris – is there any Brussels connection with this artist?
In Paris, in the 60s, there were a number of Belgian artists based there and Jacqueline developed friendships with them.
She also came to Belgium regularly – she exhibited here and published an edition of her art journal here.
What do you hope that people feel when experiencing this exhibition?
The work of Jacqueline is very free and very energetic. She’s a daring artist – people really feel that when they see the show.
Most of our visitors don’t know her work – it’s a real discovery. Most of them are really moved and touched by the audacity that she’s always had, and by her freedom – a freedom that is still very present in her most recent works.
People enjoy that Jacqueline has always made work the way that she wanted – not caring about trends or fashions or social codes – just doing it. It’s very refreshing.
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