Artists from belgium have often a raw and essential approach, you see it in the work of Ann de Meulemeester, Maison Martin Margila or Sofie Claes. On the other hand is there the rich tradition of mappig and mirroring the reality, you can find in the paintings from Early Netherlandish painting, which was characterized by a high colour impact and a strong attention for details. One artist from Belgium combine and reflect both styles, his name is Jan Kempenaers.
Since a few years travels Anwerp-based photograph Jan Kempenaers through the former country of Yugoslavia, constantly working on his series “Spomenik - The Monuments of Former Yugoslavia”. These gigantic sculptures are the heritage of past times, but still present in the landscape of the countries. Built in the 60th´s- and 70th`s, every single one of them is a memorial monument to the events of the Second World War, but their architectural language is still iconic and impressive. In this way Kempenaers shows in his photos the reality and the past in every single picture. That what makes Kempenaers photos striking is his strong attention for details. He works only with a few elements. His photos are characterized by natural, but intensive colours, a beware use of natural light, hard contrasts and the domination of the archaist strong forms of a former political past.
His staging and imagery refer to the visual elements of the communism: linear perspective, symmetry and geometrical abstract forms. Kempenaers work remind a little bit to the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher and their typologies of industrial buildings and structures. But he give his pictures another, contrary aura because the depicted building are not neutral or anonymous, they got a special history. But Jan Kempenaeres take only a neutral look: in his photos the monuments referring to nothing but themselves.
© Jan Kempenaers