"Making art and being an artist is a philosophical task than merely producing objects."
Selina Ting, Editor of InitiArt Magazine, with Olivier Meessen (left) and Jan De Clercq (right) in their office...
Photo by Ding Yang for InitiArt Magazine. ©InitiArt Magazine, 2011.
We met Jan De Clercq and Olivier Meessen in Brussels on 25 Feb 2011, at noon.
I have visited their gallery serveral times before during the Art Brussels but this is the first time that I was introduced and talked to them. I bumped into the gallery the evening before, on 24 Feb, for their opening of a group show curated by Latitude. The gallery was full of people, of all ages and of all look. Jan told me that around six hundred people attended the opening. At 9pm, there was still a huge crowd squatting outside the gallery, bottles of belgian beer in hand, mainly young artists.
A gallery's opening is one of the best occasions to discern the style of the gallery. And here, we have a nice... what i called young and dynamic.
Behind the young and dynamic art gallery, Meessen De Clercq, are two men of opposite but complementary talents and temperaments. Jan De Clercq has the physique of a rugby player while Olivier Meessen gives one the impression of a fantasy writer. Economist by education and strategic planning expert by profession, Jan teams up with the art historian and curator Olivier to open the gallery in 2008. Set up at the time of unfavorable financial and psychological climate, however, the gallery experienced and still experiencing continuing growth and is making its name seen in a broader art scene.
It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. Meessen De Clercq shows us another facet of the art world which is not necessarily gloomy as we might have imagined. When asked how they project the gallery in the future, “Bright and Shine!” Jan answered. How did they make it? I tried hard to shake some secrets out of Jan's mouth.
Paris, 28 Feb 2011.