Cap, oil on canvas, 60 x 50, 2016
The painter Jan Vanriet was born in Antwerp on 21 february 1948. In 1972, after his studies at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, he first exhibited at De Zwarte Panter Gallery. Immediately afterwards a partnership was born with Jan Lens at his gallery, Lens Fine Art, which was to last for ten years. In this period he developed into an excellent aquarellist and a few books were published: maria lecina, death in venice, het teken van de hamster. Vanriet is also a writer. Collections of poetry were published by Manteau and for Belgian radio (BRT) he wrote a series of poems entitled Staat van Beleg (State of Siege), set to music by Bob Porter. Het wrote articles for weekly magazines such as Vrij Nederland and for the Dutch monthly magazine Avenue he edited a literary contribution from Belgium. He took part in the Menton Biennale and exhibited at Naviglio, Milan and Brusberg, Hannover. The Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and the Kunstverein in Darmstad exhibited the Death in Venice series. The Museum of Fine Art in Antwerp purchased a few of his works. At this time he began working for the literary magazine Revolver and to this day still designs its covers. In 1982 he started working with Isy Brachot in Brussels and Paris. Edward Lucie-Smith published a monography on his work and Pierre Restany wrote the tekst for Vanriet’s first exhibition in Paris, l’etat du siege du regard. Vanriet was selected for the Sao Paulo Biennale 1979 and began a long series of exhibitions in California, mostly at the Wenger Gallery in San Diego and later in Los Angeles. His work is included in the collections of, for example, the Museum of Art in San Diego, the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla and the Hewlett Packard Corporation in Palo Alto. The Ministry of Dutch Culture published a new monography. He was appointed Principal of Antwerp’s Hoboken Academy of Art. After the Venice Biennale (1984) he was envited to participate in the Olympiad of Arts in Seoul. His monumental canvas compte a regler is now in the Museum of Contemporary Art there and in 1980 he was awarded the special prize at the Art Festival, together with John Chamberlain and Mimmo Rotella. In between he stayed twice in New York to work in Bernar Venet’s studio. Commissions for portraits were awarded by Harry Torczyner, the Belgian Parlement and the University of Leuven In the context of Antwerp 93 (European Cultural Capital), the Elzenveld Art Centre opened his new gallery areas with a large-scale exhibition of Vanriet’s recent work. This was not his oly contribution to this festival year. He is also responsible for ceiling paintings in the restored Bourla theatre. Exhibitions in Dublin, Michigan, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Luxembourg. He painted het betoverd domein, an integrated mural 110 metres in length, for the new headquarters of Kredietbank in Brussels, and aan de energie, a triptych for Electrabel. He also finished a series of fifty portraits as well as volgens johannes, thirty-five large works for which Benno Barnard wrote an epic poem: book published by Lannoo, exhibition at the Veranneman Foundation at Kruishoutem. The following year, in 1996, the same publisher brought out the impressive monography Jan Vanriet 1984-1996, written by Freddy de Vree. Meanwhile Jan Vanriet renewed his partnership with De Zwarte Panter Gallery in Antwerp. New works were collected by the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, and for example, by Deutsche Bank, Royal Belge, Crédit Lyonnais, Zürich. The Stedelijk Prentenkabinet also procured preporary studies for Johannes. Since 1987 Jan Vanriet has designed theatre decors, for example, for Raamtheater, Geletterde Mensen and the international tournees of Behoud de Begeerte in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Amsterdam and Aix-en-Provence, for VRT (Flemish Television) and KVS-Brussels. He was commissioned by newspaper De Morgen to illustrate a novel by Hugo Claus, and the latter wrote poems for ten of Vanriet’s etchings, pubished in the book De aap in Efese. Publishers in the Netherlands and France (Balland, Le Seuil) illustrate the covers of their novels with his work. He designs posters, such as for the Flemish Boekenbeurs 1999 (VBVB). From December 2000 on drawings in ZENO [De Morgen] [De Morgen] Vanriet made a mural for the De Brouckère metro station in Brussels: two walls, panels on metal around 210 metres long. He also painted a mural series 85 meters long for the Roularta publishing house in Evere. In 2001, he received the Van Acker Prijs (as did Hugo Claus, Frans Masereel, Roger Raveel). At this occasion the book De reiziger is blind was published by Uitgeverij De Geus, Breda. Since September 2003 he starts up his column EenOog in Weekend Knack. May 2004: The Lippisches Landesmuseum Detmold (Germany) shows Transport, paintings 1999-2004. Testamenta, the exhibition of 104 drawings in the Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He starts an intensive collaboration with autor Cees Nooteboom, what leads to the publication of two books, A Winterreise and Rode regen (Red rain). Then, in 2008, there is that remarkable show Meikever, vlieg!, and at this occasion the book by Marc Ruyters on Vanriet and his work Parcours 1966-2008has been presented. Vanriet himself starts the publication of the weekly column Joetoeb for DeMorgen Magazine and comes to the public with a new book of poetry, Stormlicht. In 2010 the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp invites Jan Vanriet to ‘close’ the museum, where enormous works of renovation will start. With the exhibition Closing Time he proposes a selection of masterpieces from the collection in confrontation with a retrospective selection of his own work. 88.000 visitors will attend. Closing Time attracts 88,000 visitors. In 2012 the series Partie de Campagne is shown at Zwarte Panter Gallery and Ludion Editors publishes the book. At the same time Bezige Bij publishes a new selection of Vanriet’s poetry, Leegstand. The exhibition Closed Doors in 2013 opens Roberto Polo Gallery, Brussels. Museum shows in Moscow, Gdansk and Walsall. In 2018 publication of Radeloos geluk (Desperate Happiness) ‘anegodocument’, nominated for the Bookspot Literature Prize in The Netherlands. A new museum in Toledo, Spain, the Centro de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Castilla-La Mancha – Colección Roberto Polo, shows from spring 2019, besides artwork by Schmidt-Rottluff, Pechstein, Kandinsky, Schlemmer, Schwitters, Moholy-Nagy and Max Ernst, a ensemble of ten large paintings by Jan Vanriet. In the same year a extensive choise of Vanriet’s poetry was published, Kouwe Kleren (Cold Clothes), and a new book followed, Heldenleven (Hero’s Life). Van Oorschot Publishers in Amsterdam proposed Vanriet to illustrate Joseph Roth’s novel Radetzkymarch and also published his newest volume of poetry Pizza and the Death, 2021. Collected Stories was the thirteenth show at De Zwarte Panter Gallery; for the catalog the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski wrote an essay. In 2020 Vanriet designed the Empress Theophano Prize, an prestigious award installed by the Empress Theophano Foundation in Thessaloniki. The first laureate was the Erasmus Programme managed by the European Commission and given to its president Ursula von der Leyen. Early 2017 Jan Vanriet became a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg. The artist works and lives in Antwerp.