Serge Vandercam & Hugo Claus The Raft of the Medusa

Focus exhibition

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Hugo Claus & Serge Vandercam; The Raft of the Medusa | © Philippe de Formanoira

Knowing each other already as members of the CoBRa group (1948-1951), Serge Vandercam (1924-2005) and Hugo Claus (1929-2008) get into contact again at the beginning of the 1960s.

Vandercam, who then lives in Albisola in Italy, creates a multitude of works with writers in the pure CoBRa tradition. During a trip to Denmark in 1961, he discovers Tollund Man, which brings him back to a brutal and libertarian figuration. Hugo Claus follows the work of the painter and writes a poem that is published in 1963 on the occasion of an exhibition of Vandercam in Rotterdam. The following year, the collaboration continues with a theme that can be regarded as the synthesis of the conducted research. The comrades switch roles: Claus paints, Vandercam writes.

The Raft of the Medusa refers to a news fact that Géricault transcended in his large painting of 1818-1819: shipwreck, reckonings, and cannibalism make the raft a concentrate of inhumanity which refers directly to the cruelty of the original sacrifice embodied by Tollund Man. Through the series of five paintings realised in a form of lyrical high, Claus and Vandercam bear witness to the permanence of both an insurrectional and libertarian CoBRa spirit.

 

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