Jeroen with work by Wouter Steel.
In this section we let a selection of art lovers – from occasional buyers to art professionals – talk about their perception of art and preferences: where do they want to see art? Where do they purchase art, and above all: from which artists do they buy? Below, an interview with Jeroen Olyslaegers (author, age 53)
What does art mean to you?
Friendship and kinship. I always come back to that. I think this goes back to my childhood, when I first saw Bruegel's work in an art book. I felt an unimpeded relationship over the centuries.
Johan Tahon, Mondlicht 3, 2021, Galerie Gerhard Hofland.
Were you exposed to art while growing up?
My father was a stone dresser and calligrapher. In that sense, beauty was everywhere on the walls of our house. Once you enter puberty, you will of course no longer appreciate that sort of beauty. And so a quest arises, first for ugliness and subversion (it need not be beautiful) and from there it fans in all directions, until you complete the circle and come back to beauty.
Where do you read about the latest developments in the art world?
I am not actively looking for art and the broader topicality of it does not mean much to me. I do this consciously, it will keep me not only ignorant, but also hungry, ready to be amazed, to suddenly find myself caught off guard by chance.
Where do you prefer to look at art?
I prefer to go to a gallery and a museum, but only if I can really look at the works in peace. If the queue is long, I’ll return home.
Joris Ghekiere, Untitled, 2016, Kristof De Clercq gallery.
How often do you buy art each year?
Rarely, but in Corona times a little more to help artist friends. Even a small purchase makes a difference. Plus: I buy local!
Where do you do your buying: in a gallery, at an art fair, at an auction or online?
Preferably directly from the artist himself. I should also add that most of the works I own were gifted to, or were acquired through some form of barter. For example, I have works by Konrad Tinel and Cindy Wright, because I wrote texts for them. My works by Wouter Steel also fill me with joy.
Is it important that you and your partner always agree on a purchase?
Yes, I think that's very important. Nikkie and I both have to like it and immediately see a spot for it in our house, so to speak. But I do reserve my two Wayn Traub coats of arms for my study. They’re part of my boyish knighthood.
Hans Op de Beeck, The Night Walkers (5), 2020, Galerie Ron Mandos.
Do you have a special relationship with any one gallery?
Undoubtedly Base Alpha in Borgerhout. They represent artists such as Nadia Naveau and Lieven Segers, who are friends of ours and whose work we have at home. And of course there is De Zwarte Panter, the legendary place that is home to my buddies Nick Andrews and Tom Liekens.
If you had an unlimited budget, who would you buy a work from?
Only work by people who are close to me or to whom I feel related: Nadia Naveau, Nick Andrews, Fia Cielen, Bert Lezy, Lieven Segers, Tom Liekens, Cindy Wright, Hans Op de Beeck, Jan Van Imschoot and outdoors, in the garden, a huge statue by Koenraad Tinel.
Who are your favourite artists?
Johan Tahon's sculptures always strike a nerve with me - they are rough and tender. I would very much like to visit his studio.
I find the work of (unfortunately the late) Joris Ghekiere, and certainly the last works he produced - where he uses weeds and plants as subject for his paintings - very clever.
And, of course, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven: or how mysticism and criticism, spirituality and surface reposition themselves time and again in her.
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Bel Mij (Call Me), 2018, Zeno X Gallery.