This show focuses on the work of Belgian artist Jan Cox born in The Hague in 1919. Trained in Amsterdam and Antwerp, Cox founded in 1945vthe group Jeune Peinture Belge together with other artists. A few years later he was introduced to the members of the Cobra group and he made life long friendships with Pierre Alechinsky and Hugo Claus.
From 1948 his attention shifted to the United States. He exhibited at the Curt Valentin Gallery in New York, and from 1956 he was Head of the Painting Department of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. When he returned to Belgium in 1974, he joined the artists’ circle of Galerie ‘De Zwarte Panter’ in Antwerp.
In addition to an enigmatic self-portrait and representations of birds flying freely as a sign of hope (‘I am alive again, I am fluttering again, I am chatting again…’), the Death of Socrates (Antwerp 1980) occupies a crucial place at the beginning of the exhibition. The old Greek philosopher is not just the symbol of Greek antiquity, which inspired Jan Cox all his life, but is also the symbol of man in search of knowledge, wisdom and insight in good and evil. Like Socrates, Cox committed suicide (1980, Antwerp).
Jan Cox had lived through World War II and couldn't put the horror behind him. The racial segregation and violent atmosphere in the America of the late 1960s also left a deep impression on him. In 1975 he decided to devote a series of about 10 paintings to the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. Because of its size, the Iliad is the most ambitious project of Jan Cox. In numerous expressive close-ups he staged well-known warriors and heroes, including Menelaos, Achilles, Patrocles, Hector and Priam. In paintings such as Rain of Blood, Cox clearly wanted to point out the horror of acts of war. But in some scenes he was also fascinated by the humanity and terrible beauty of war.
Royal Museum of Fine Arts , Antwerp