Roger Raveel, a Belgian painter between abstraction and realism
Belgian painter Roger Raveel was born on 15 July 1921 in Machelen-aan-de-Leie, a municipality in East Flanders. Since 1999, there has been a museum dedicated to him in his native village, housing 300 paintings, 2,500 drawings and a complete collection of graphic works.
A post-impressionist artist, painter, draftsman and graphic designer, he is associated with Pop Art, of which he was one of the precursors, devoting himself to this genre since 1952. The source of Raveel's art was his immediate environment. The things that surrounded him acquired a universal significance in his paintings, drawings, objects and installations: men, women, plants, advertising, and technology were seen in time and space, but the level of abstraction in his painting varied with each creation. He constantly tended towards an intense exchange between painting and viewer.
He trained at the academies of Deinze (1937-40) and Ghent (1941-1945) and studied ceramics at Ghent academy in 1954. In 1962, he went to Albisola Mare, Italy, where he worked and exhibited with artists such as Lucio Fontana and Asger Jorn. Through his friend Hugo Claus, he met painters from the Cobra group, including Karel Appel and Corneille, in the early 1950s. But if there is one artist who strongly influenced him it was James Ensor. One of Raveel's most famous works, entitled "Memory of My Mother's Deathbed", has been compared to Ensor's work on a similar theme "My Dead Mother”.
He also produced monumental works; in 1976, he created a huge mural for the Brussels metro station Mérode and in 2004, he decorated the Grand Place in Harlem with imposing multicoloured posts.
In the course of his long career, he received many honours for his contribution to the history of painting: the Joost van den Vondel Prize, the Prix Europa, the Gold Medal of the Flemish Community and the distinctions of Knight of the Order of the Crown and the Order of Leopold.
He was knighted by King Albert II on 27 September 1995; he chose as his motto: "White, always keep your secret".
© Peter Claeys