|André Jongen, born in Amay, July 3 rd, 1946|
André Jongen makes no secret of his deep admiration for Monet and Renoir. Yet, do not expect his brushwork to turn the "Fagne" or the Ardennes into some colourful haze.
This so typical light of ours, which he tenderly loves, doesn't have the same licence to dissolve shapes and to suppress distances as in the paintings of the great masters of French impressionism .
For him, the right to be dazzled has got limits.
In this respect André Jongen is definitely in the tradition of a realism that is so typical of our national genius.
Very few Belgian painters have given up the concrete love of nature for sheer evanescence.
As we are offered this nature in its fresh and frank truth, let us take possession of it without scruple or prejudice. Is it a revenge on the frustrating harshness of the weather ?
Throughout his work we are taken to undergrowths, meadows, brooks, wide horizons, fluttering grass, snow-covered areas, so sweet to contemplate by the fireside.
A long experience
It is already remarkable when a landscape painter masters his technique so well that no clumsy effect ever spoils our contemplation.
But when, in addition to this, a discreet art brings this nature to such a state of rapture, almost unknown to it, it is the stamp of a great talent.
For each painting by André Jongen is the result of subtle choices. Well-composed in order to create the necessary balance, the parts allotted to sky and land, shadow and light.
As if by a miracle the grass finds the shade of green which the blue of water demands of it, and the russet grass charmingly abides by the law of complementary colours.
All the resources of classical perspective are exploited without anyreluctance, thanks to the blurs and atmospheric gradations which create an immense space
A few watercolours and swiftly drawn pastels confirm this ability to seize the quintessence of nature in an evocative synthesis.
So this is a painting full of moderation and balance.
It does not engage in any soul-searching which might create a screen between nature and us.
But it also rejects the renunciation of hyperrealism, through which the artist artificially pretends to be absent from his work.
The whole nature, seen through the eyes of a sensitive and experienced artist : this is how his painting appears to us.
Original French text by Jacques Henrard, writer, journalist and art critic.
Circle of fine arts, Verviers, Belgium
The friends of the painter Dieudonné Jacobs," Spa" , Belgium and " la Garde " , France
The International Order of creative artists
La Barbouille : an association of painters and friends.
Drouot International rating of artists
Dictionary " Larousse " art
André Jongen, Editions Art in Belgium, Lasne
Dictionary " Le Goijen 2010" Ecole Liegeoise du paysage http://www.ecole-liegeoise-du-paysage.net/fr/dictionnaire/index.php
Getting to know André Jongen, the painter
Born in Amay, July 3rd, 1946 . He is the descendant of a large artistic family.
The most distant in time and famous of them is undoubtedly Zénobe Gramme., born in Jehay-Bodegnée ( 1826 - 1901 ). He invented the electrical dynamo, which generates direct reversible current
Joseph Jongen, composer and conductor from Liège. 1873-1953 www.wallonie-en-ligne.net/1995_Cent_Wallons/Jongen_Joseph.htm
Léon Jongen, pianist and music composer 1885-1969.http://www.lamediatheque.be/Travers_sons/jongenl.htm
Charles Jongen, violinist born in Liège in 1937. Member of a world-famous family of musicians.
Fernand Jongen, painter from Liège ( 1893-1976 ). Brother of André Jongen's paternal grandfather.
This prestigious lineage explains his interest for various aspects of art.
He spends his childhood in Africa, where he finds everything delightful. The profusion of colours and the subtle light of the sunset influence him a lot. When he sees the natives painting he becomes conscious of his artistic aptitude. Painting reveals itself to him as something obvious. He uses a bed-sheet stretched between two pieces of wood as a canvas. He creates his first painting at the age of 15.
His father is his first admirer and critic. He offers André his first easel, which the boy treasures.Returning to Belgium in 1960, his passion for painting will lead him to the workshop of his uncle Fernand. The latter teaches him the rudiments of this art and the technique of oil painting. But André keeps a free artistic expression revealing his own personality. Under the watchful eye of the master the pupil makes rapid progress.
In 1972 on Saturdays he joins a group of artists from Huy : Edouard Genot ( the father of the painter Luc Genot ), Michel Genot, Jacques and Camille Riffon.On Sundays he meets up with the club "Daubers" led by Camille Riffon ( Paul Mohr, Robert Courtois .. ) and from time to time Pierre Wathieu and Maggy Frère join them.He meets up with them every weekend to explore nature, precious moments for him because they are so rare. His professional activities do not allow him to join them during the week.Together they criss-cross the Condroz as well as the Fagnes and the Ardennes, they plant their easels as soon as they have found a quiet place to sketch, and this in all seasons. In winter, nice and warm under a tent next to a good wood fire ; in the summer under a parasol.
Coming back home at the end of the day, exhausted but happy, he retires to his study to add the final touch to the work he has begun with his friends. They are amongst those artists who practise an art out of passion, painting being one whilst nature is another.
What a wonderful time for this happy band of jokers ! What memories !
Following the death of Camille Riffon in 1987 the group gradually breaks up
André loses his friend Camille one Sunday evening after a day of painting in the Fagnes. He is the last to have known him. In July of the same year a new trial awaits him. The loss of his father is a cruel blow, he misses enormously his perceptive eye and his critical objectivity.In October 1988, on the occasion of the Luxembourg heat of the Prix de France, André Jongen receives the Bronze Palette which allows him to take part in the final of the international competition of the Prix de France at Tulette in Provence, on 19th November, 1988.With what panache he carries off the first prize and the gold medal for painting in all categories, awarded by the International Order of Creative Artists. This award is the culmination of many years of hard work. A huge accolade for this artist who is gradually gaining a fine reputation. Not the least of his other rewards is the "Official Citation" of this award winner.In 1989 one of his works is acquired by the Province of Liège : "une fagne". On the occasion of an exhibition in Liège André meets the painter Fernand Vetcour, a great admirer of his work. He visits him several times at his studio in Grivegnée, remaining in contact with him until his death in 2001.
André also makes excursions into the Fagnes in the company of the watercolourist Léon Claessens.All this history has shaped him. In his case painting is hereditary and his talent is evident in his depiction of landscape, to which he brings a moving personal touch.
André's figurative painting is a hymn to nature which he loves so much. He creates a layered atmosphere with remarkable intensity. His landscapes have nothing of the superficial about them.His love of the land shines through his choice of peaceful landscapes. His technical mastery is clear and, above all, an extraordinary sense of light seems to come to him straight from the equator.He pays perpetual homage to the beauty which surrounds him. In contemplation he maintains an impressive dialogue with nature. With his easel under his arm he beats a path through the countryside like a connoisseur searching for a backdrop. His angles of vision bear witness to this.
André especially prefers the captivating area of the Fagnes, the wild beauty of "Zwin", the mysterious marshes of Campine and the varied stretches of water. He is delighted by the beauty and the magic of the Semois. Just as, before him, his favourite artists Richard Heintz and Elie Louis understood so well how to paint it.André is fascinated by the seasons ; he does not hide his preference for the fairy tale colours of autumn. At this time nature decks itself out in its most sumptuous finery. He also appreciates winter for its sweet and restful light. The flaming sun and, in contrast, a darkening sky, either under a veil of mist or covered with a cloak of snow, make the wealth of colour emerge in all its subtlety.They are rare today those corners of our region which have escaped his watchful eye and which have not yet been immortalized by his brushes..
If oil is the medium by which he best expresses his emotions, he is also master of a variety of techniques : charcoal, watercolour and pastel. If landscapes are pre-eminent in the body of his work, he does not neglect still life, composition and portrait. His admiration for Monet inspires him to wander through France, captivated by the beauty and variety of his landscapes. It likes to think itself a beneficial source of creativity. He does not hesitate to sketch Brittany, Provence and the Alps in watercolour, oil and pastel.. He comes back with canvasses replete with Provencal sun, with magnificent views captured in the Alps and Breton seascapes which tempt us to travel.His natural need for freedom has created in him a many sided, painter. Nature in all its diversity is a source of inspiration. With the passage of time his subject takes form with its changing contrasts according to the seasons.André continues his artistic journey with great enjoyment. Whatever the weather, come rain or snow, he is there in the field. When the subject is too complex he takes "notes" and finishes it in the studio. There, with a background of classical music, he loses touch of the hours.
He adds the final touches to his subject, painstaking and attentive to the smallest detail.
As he likes to point out : he will get us to share his passion to the same extent as he has mastery of his brushes.