Jan Lauwers, born 1957 in Antwerp, living and working in Brussels
Jan Lauwers (Antwerp, 1957) is an artist who works in just about every medium. Over the last thirty years he has become best known for his pioneering work for the stage with Needcompany, which was founded in Brussels in 1986. In the course of this period he has also built up a substantial body of art work which has been shown at BOZAR (Brussels) and McaM (Shanghai) among other places. From 2009 until 2014 Needcompany was artist-in-residence at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Jan Lauwers was awarded the ‘Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria’ in 2012. In 2014, he was rewarded with the ‘Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the Venice Biennale. He is the first Belgian to receive this prize in the theatre category. In 2018, the Salzburg Festival presents ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’, the first opera staging by Jan Lauwers.
Jan Lauwers studied painting at the Academy of Art in Ghent.
Jan Lauwers does drawings, small-format watercolours, like A4s that make a world of difference. Drawing is a one-to-one affair with the empty paper. Drawings are the scribblings of the mind. Drawing is the rapid and direct tracing out of the imagination. Raw ideas that flow onto the willing paper in just a few movements like streams of unprecedented, unvarnished and unfiltered thoughts. Jan Lauwers’ drawings are regal. They act as the proud bearers of an unrestrained geology of what does not yet exist. Drawings are gifts from god; unpolished images that even the artist often cannot fathom, because they stroke these unbridled thoughts so directly and impulsively onto the paper. In an artist’s oeuvre there is a clash between the drawings and the rest, which usually emerges from them. Drawings are like outline agreements for an artist; they point to a possible outlet towards art that is more monumental, such as a painting, an installation or a video film. The drawing is the template for thought, a ‘mould’ that enables an artist to tap a source of images, in the same way as many painters took photography – their competitor – as ‘inspiration’. All the possible research involved in avoiding reality, its recording and fixing, turns out to be and remains a means that can fight merciless reality. The result is poetry; for lack of other words.
‘Silent Stories’, BOZAR (Brussels) (april-june 2017)
‘Silent Stories’, McaM (Shanghai) (may-july 2016)
‘The House of our Fathers’, Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen (Hannover), june 2013
‘The House of our Fathers’, Museum M / PLAYGROUND (Leuven), november 2011
‘The House of our Fathers’,Kunsthalle Mannheim / 16. Internationale Schillertage (Mannheim), june 2011
‘Deconstruction’, Haus der Kunst (Munchen), november 2007
‘Deconstruction’, PSK (Brussels), march 2007
‘Restlessness’, PSK/PBA Brussels, curated by Jérôme Sans (march-may 2007)
LAUWERS, Jan, Leda, Bebuquin (Antwerp) co-production with uitgeverij IF & TB, Amsterdam, 1995.
VANDEN ABEELE, Maarten, De luciditeit van het obscene, Needcompany in colaboration with Uitgeverij IF & TB, Brussels/Amsterdam, 1998.
LAUWERS, Jan, La chambre d’Isabella and Le Bazar du Homard, Actes Sud-papiers, Paris, 2006.
STALPAERT, Christel, BOUSSET, Sigrid, LE ROY, Frederik, (eds.), No beauty for me there where human life is rare. On Jan Lauwers’ theatre work with Needcompany, Academia Press, IT & FB, Ghent/Amsterdam, 2007.
LAUWERS, Jan, Restlessness, Mercatorfonds, BOZAR Books & Needcompany, Brussels, 2007.
LAUWERS, Jan, Sad Face | Happy Face, Drei Geschichten über das Wesen des Menschen, Fischer Taschenbuche Verlag (Frankfurt), 2008.
LAUWERS, Jan, La maison des cerfs, Actes Sud-papiers, Paris, 2009.
LAUWERS, Jan, KEBANG!, Uitgeverij Van Halewyck, 2009.
FREEMAN, John, The Greatest Shows on Earth. World Theater form Peter Brook to the Sydney Olympics, Libri Publishing, Oxfordshire, 2011.
LAUWERS, Jan, Sad Face | Happy Face, Una trilogía sobre la humanidad, Papeles Teatrales, Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, 2014.
LAUWERS, Jan, Silent Stories, McaM, Shanghai, 2016.
BRAECKMAN, Dirk, LAUWERS, Jan, The House of Our Fathers, MER Paper Kunsthalle, Ghent, 2017.