Walter Swennen

Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp

To do: Quote the little passage where Swennen says that in the early 1960s he filled his time with essential and complicated things: the existence of God and how to seduce a girl. Say that he wrote poems to the music on John Coltrane’s first album. Say that his cat’s name was Pollock and that he thought you had to lie on your belly to paint. ( . . . ) Say that it took him twenty years to realize that it’s easier to paint in an upright position.

—excerpt from the catalogue W. Swennen

Walter Swennen is probably one of Belgium’s best kept secrets. His paintings are tempting and seem extremely simple to comprehend. Once you’ve seen the clear, often childish images, they are forever lodged in your memory. A painting like Untitled (Juju), 1985, depicts a blow-up of a pacifier to nearly grotesque proportions. Just pulled out of the child’s mouth, it seems that the object itself is slobbering. It

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