Jesse Willems

1984 · Belgium

Artist biography

Jesse Willems (°1984) has an interest in exploring the boundaries between the figurative and abstract aspects of street life. When his great grandfather left him a collection of 800 old National Geographic magazines, he started scanning them, looking for tiny abstractions in photographs from the fifties. Thus creating contemporary collages, while working with 70 year old materials. In both his photography and collage work, he works in this same manner. Scanning the streets for small fragments of everyday life, often overlooked, enlarging them until their beauty can no longer be overlooked. This first resulted in the series The future – and other jet age inventions.

This first solo show was a pivoting point toward an even more abstract view on everyday life. Inspired by the 1920’s avant-gardist movement, and the stoic philosophy of Epictetus, his work took a more personal approach, closer towards the needs felt in 21st century life. His work got smaller, leaving more space for silence. Ultimately leading to the series Chresis ton phantasion. The rational testing of different impressions, to see whether or not they deserve our assent. By eliminating all clutter, all that remains is the few fragments worth remembering.

In 2017 his work was also on show at MAS Museum Antwerp (Antwerpen à la carte) and the Belgian Embassy in Kinshasa, Congo (Barak Friture).

2018 brought an exhibit at Native Auctions in Brussels.

2019 has been a busy year. Jesse’s work was part of the group show Belgian Contemporary Collages at Verbeke Foundation. He had his biggest solo show up until now, Eden, at Schönfeld Gallery. A selection of his work was on show at Art The Hague, Paper Positions München and Luxembourg Art Week.

The collage he made for hip-hopartist Coely was awarded the Marc Meulemans Award (Best Artwork) and a nomination for Best Artwork at the Music Industry Awards (MIA’s).

Jesse Willems

  • Exhibitions 2
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