Jan Dries

1925 (Mol, Belgium) – 2014 (Zoersel, Belgium)

Jan Dries was a founding member of G58 and of De Nieuwe Vlaamse School. He made a name for himself in the 1950s with his autonomous ceramic sculptures. Following his philosophical nature, he sought a path he had already entered through photography in which a fascination for the light arose. He aimed for pure forms in which color gave way to a gift of light. After first having experimented with plaster in 1959-1960, he worked with the more light-absorbing white Carrara marble mainly.

“Light and dark determine what I try to shape in marble. Inspiration gives light its own way of existence in a specific volume. Light’s versatility within the shape’s characteristics is the other of the one represented by space. The one is the other. In essence such an image made into a balance of light bears meditation, a kind of all-time: an indefinable own being that has brought into being an a-dimensional space in time.”

Jan Dries’ specific view on art can be found in his own language-bound way in the choice of titles for his works: ‘cosmic center’,’portrait of self’, ‘key of light’, ‘lichtvaart’, …
Dries was the first artist to undertake an intervention in the field of a Belgian museum in 1974 and realized his ‘meditative space to be himself’ with earth and grass in Middelheim park, which he integrated  in the Theaterplein at the Stadsschouwburg in Antwerp in 1986 (36 × 36 m, dismantled in 2007). In 1986 he received the Flemish Community Prize in recognition of his artistic career, in 1987 he became Knight in the Crown Order, and in 2016 he received honorary citizenship of the municipality of Zoersel. One can find works by Jan Dries in collections of governments and in various museums in Belgium and abroad, they have been integrated into public space and have been purchased for private and corporate collections.