February 1, 2019

Philippe Vandenberg was born in 1952 as ‘Vandenberghe’ in the region of Ghent. During the 1970s he graduates and was still in an experimental phase as an artist, studying with great attention the work of both modern and classical icons. The acquaintance with their styles and material contributed to the development of his own style that was expressed since 1981. During this period, the art world in general was known for the so-called ‘neo-expressionism’, which especially peaked with the ‘Neue Wilde’ in Germany. Vandenberg’s style is closely related to this, but as an individual he continued to search for innovation, fluctuating between the abstract and the figurative. He can soon count on international attention, already in 1986 he has a solo exhibition in a New York gallery and one of his works was purchased by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. However, the artist is under pressure from the art market and the opinions of art critics. Towards the end of the 1980s his oeuvre underwent a radical evolution, which was mainly influenced by many political events of our time. War crimes and dictators became the main subject, often combined with sexual elements and swastikas. Partly because of this, he had more setbacks by the 1990s. Criticism of his work grew and the New York gallery no longer exhibited his work. Nevertheless, certainly within Belgium, he was still recognized for his talent in terms of exhibitions. In the 1990s, Christian iconography became the main theme in his work, which continues to undergo radical upheaval. For example, he created a series of ‘Blood Drawings’, for which he used his own blood. And he overpaints some of his earlier works with black (‘Grandes Noires’), grey, orange and yellow paint. Since the early 2000s, he had moments of depression that led to hospitalization. Besides the regular use of crosses and swastikas, his work also became more geometric. Words and lyrics also made their appearance during that period, such as ‘K.A.’ (reference to kamikaze) or ‘Kill Them All’. The drastic revolutions in his oeuvre are accompanied by his state of mind. Always demonstrating a unique style accomplished by his hand. In 2009 he took his own life.