Jan Van Imschoot

Provincial Museum Hasselt

A famous curator recently declared the act of painting “illegitimate,” or obsolete. It could just be a coincidence, but since the last Documenta the most interesting art I’ve seen has involved this supposedly reactionary and out-of-date medium. Call it my mistake if you will, but it seems that the familiar refrain that painting is dead (again) doesn’t correspond to reality.

Take the Belgian painter—or perhaps “imagemaker” would be a more appropriate term—Jan Van Imschoot. Van Imschoot’s universe is extremely rich, full of paradoxes and fueled by such compassion for or astonishment over what he sees around him that it is hard for the viewer to know how to respond. You feel sympathy for the villains, heroes, and misfits he portrays, but are left wondering if that is all the work is about. The show’s curator, Bart Cassiman, probably felt the same way, since he tried to provide an exhibition

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