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Jan Mestdagh in "Bob De Groof's distraught defence"(May 1989)

...Bob De Groof is a 20th century painter. This means that he does not avoid the madness of this century, this means that he is a painter of violence and devastation. At the same time he is the painter of ultimate, perhaps desperate resistance, of subdued tenderness. Beauty might have burnt its face, as Lucebert said, but even mutilated it lives on ,as it does for instance in the harsh lyricism of blues, in the tormented, but triumphant music by Parker and Coltrane, in the rebellious rhythm of rock and reggae.
This beauty, that went through hell, does not only console worms, reptiles and rats, but maybe – who knows - also human beings.
That is why the spontaneity by which young artists react against the more cerebral art forms of their predecessors is a bitter and desperate one. It is fed and poisoned by the remembrance of wellnigh innumerable defeats resulting from social as well as artistic revolts. So, the fact that the remembrance to the murder of Garcia Lorca remains vivid in Bob De Groof's work after all these years, is symptomatical. The wounds that have been smashed during this century, fail to close themselves.
But there is more than that. After all, Bob.De Groof neither offers us talk with pictures, nor illustrations, nor does he give a report that inevitably has to remain beneath the reality about which it narrates. The artist's personality might well be an exponent of social and (art-) historical circumstances but it can never be reduced to it. Bob De Groof's work therefore is not only a testimony; In the first place it is also a search and a quest for the own identity. How his traumata solidify into stigmata in the painting was already seen, but for their part, they compress into hieroglyphics, into signs that remain legible by the spectator indeed, but that at the same time mask more than they betray. Here we meet up with the paradox which is intrinsic to every form of artistic expression: the artist never coincides with his work; precisely his most authentic creations reveal themselves to be mysteries to him. And this abiding alienation stimulates his creativity and whips it up again and again. The studio becomes an operating-base instead of a bunker; while fighting the artist pushes his way through to the outside, to the unknown painting, to the unknown self...

 

 

 

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