Jef Verheyen (1932 - 1984)

Finely nuanced and virtually iridescent colour gradients are characteristic of the paintings of Flemish artist Jef Verheyen. It is necessary for the viewer to look closely and be of an almost meditative state of mind in order to comprehend Verheyen’s paintings in their full depth. 

The „peintre flamant“, who studied and graduated in classical painting at the Royal Academy Antwerp in the beginning of the 1950ies, left only a relatively small oeuvre; he himself called his paintings "panchromatic works", encompassing all colours. 

His painting style almost completely annihilates any materiality of colour and brush. The subtle works of art are all the more impressive, as Jef Verheyen was visually impaired due to a congenital eye defect. 

His constant search for metaphysical insight is the programme, as it were, for those exceptional paintings, created with countless diaphanous coats of paint. They have titles such as "Sun" or "Flemish Landscape". Light and colour as a means of perception, a physical and mental visual experience, are the central elements of his art. By constant experiments Verheyen approaches very similar ideas as the „ZERO-Group" with artists such as Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and later on Günther Uecker, who work mainly in the Rhineland.

In the late 50ies, Verheyen met Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Uecker. He made contact by letter with Yves Klein and became an important link of the ZERO-Group. It was this remarkable post-war movement with which Verheyen identified as an artist. This led to important joint international exhibitions and also to joint works of art (e.g. with Lucio Fontana, Hermann Goepfert or Englebert van Anderlecht). The lively exchange with his artist colleagues always was an important source of inspiration and stimulus for him and his work. 

Lucio Fontana talked of Verheyen as „his father“, although he himself was considerably older than his Flemish friend. Apart from his art, he appreciated the intellectual and philosophical ways in which the Belgian artist knew how to put his own work and that of others into words. 

1932 born in Itegem, Belgium


1946 - 1952 Studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp


1956 First monochrome black works are created in discourse with  Paul Klee 


1957 At Galeria Pater in Milan, Verheyen meets his later friends and artist colleagues Lucio Fontana and Robert Crippa


1958 Recognition in Lausanne of his first manifesto Essentialism for the publication in art actuel international (issue 1959 -13) 


1959 Verheyen meets Günter Uecker


1960 Collaboration with Engelbert Van Anderlecht, in which a series of 10 works entitled Ni l’un ni l’autre is created


1974 Moving to the Provence with his wife Dani Francq, his daughter and his two sons 


1984 Deceased in Apt (Vaucluse, FR)

1958 Participation in the exhibition by the avant-garde artist group G58 at the Hessenhuis in Antwerp.


1960 Participation in the exhibition Monochrome Painting at the Städtisches Museum Leverkusen, Morsbroich Palace. 


1961 Participation in the exhibition Ad Reinhardt, Francesco Lo Savio, Jef Verheyen at the Städtisches Museum Leverkusen, Morsbroich Palace


1962 Participation in the exhibition nul at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. This exhibition triggers an intensification of the joint exhibitions by the ZERO movement Participation in the exhibition ZERO at the Ad Libitum Gallery, Antwerp. Two joint works with Lucio Fontana are created


1965 Participation in the exhibition Zero Avantgarde at Galeria del Cavallino, Venice / Galeria II Punto, Turin and Studio Fontana, Milan


1966 Single exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels


1967 Single exhibition Cathedrals of Light at Galerie Carrefour, Brussels

           Open Air exhibition Vlaamse Landschappen together with Uecker at t’ Kasteelke, Mullem 


1970 Single exhibition Panchromies at Galerie Iris Clert, Paris. Single exhibition Sonnenbogen at Galerie Bernard, Solothurn


1975 Single exhibition Lux est Lex at the Abbaye Saint-Michel de Frigolet, Tarascon / Galerie Media, Neuchâtel


1979 Participation in the exhibition ZERO. Presentation of paintings by a European avant-garde 1958-1964 at Kunsthaus Zürich


1987 Group exhibition Goepfert and ZERO – ZERO and Goepfert at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main


1988 Group exhibition Zero, Vision and Movement, works from the Lenz Schönberg collection, Städtische Galerie at the Lenbachhaus, München 


1994 Single exhibition Retrospective Jef Verheyen, 1932 – 1984 at the PMMK  Museum für Moderne Kunst, Ostend / Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop 


1997 Single exhibition Jef Verheyen at Galerie Schoeller, Düsseldorf


2004 Single exhibition Lux est Lex at Galerie Axel Vervoordt Kanaal Antwerp


2010 Exhibition Jef Verheyen. “Le Peintre Flamant“ and friends at the Langen Foundation, Neuss 


2014 Single exhibition, Jef Verheyen. Color, Light & Vision. Works from the 50ies and 60ies,  Galerie Dierking am Paradeplatz, Zurich/ Cologne


2016 Dialogue with Light - Jef Verheyen - Walter Leblanc, Museé d’Ixelles, Brussels


2017 Le socle du monde Biennale, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark