Philippe Vandenberg & Franklin Engeln: Brieven (1986–87)
In the winter of 1986, artist Franklin Engeln addresses his first letter to painter Philippe Vandenberg. ‘Good correspondence is rare,’ Vandenberg writes in his reply to Engeln. What follows is an exchange as flourishing as it is short-lived. The two artists get to know each other at Richard Foncke’s gallery in Ghent. It does not stop at meetings in the gallery. The friends regularly have dinner together and occasionally visit each other at home or at their studios. At the time of the correspondence, Vandenberg lived and worked in Ghent, while Engeln lived and worked in Antwerp, where he still lives and works.
The letters illuminate Vandenberg’s oeuvre in a different way, in which words such as poetry, humanity and tenderness are central. In addition, they offer an insight into Engeln’s little-known work.
As a historical source, the correspondence sheds light on the artist’s thoughts in the studio, as well as the friendship and discussion points between the two letter writers. The layering and complexity of their work emerges explicitly.
Unlike with digital communication, the artists took time to think about their response, writing the entire letter by hand and even adding drawings. It is an intimate mode of communication, originally created in the private sphere and now gaining public status.
The book is illustrated with numerous, mostly unpublished drawings, paintings and photographs by both artists from the period of the correspondence.
The correspondence between Franklin Engeln and Philippe Vandenberg, compiled by Sofie Frederix, is part of the multi-annual research project Ghent, playing field of the visual arts (1957-1987) (KASK & Conservatorium (HOGENT – Howest)) by Godart Bakkers, Koen Brams, Wouter De Vleeschouwer, Sofie Frederix and Naninga Lens.
The project is funded by the HOGENT Arts Research Fund and Culture Ghent, the culture department of the City of Ghent.
published by Posture Editions