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Homage to Sef Peeters

‘My work is a way of bringing to the surface a much deeper feeling in order to discover where I stand in relation to life.’ (Sef Peeters in 1980)

In 2014 Sef Peeters created a large-scale installation in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen of works in storage by artists who, like him, were born between 1940 and 1960. He wrote their names, back to front, on the wall on the other side of the gallery: close by, but forever separated from the works they had brought into the world. In this way, he created an image of the way in which a whole generation of artists will live on after their deaths. During the night of 5 to 6 August, Sef, who had been ill for some time, himself moved to the other side of the wall.

A Modest Poet

Sef’s comprehensive vanitas still life, created when he was 67, was a way of taking stock of more than forty years of artistic practice. The exhibition was tinged with a little pain and sadness because Sef was a modest poet. Following his flying start in the second half of the 1970s, with performances and installation in the Netherlands and Germany, fame and success passed him by. But there was no disappointment, let alone bitterness. He had always attempted to focus on the bigger picture, beyond his own achievements.

Small and Personal

He did this in his art by means of a detour through the small and personal, with a single line, bright colours and the visual power of language. The word ‘IK’ (Dutch for ‘I’) was enough: after all, each of us is ‘I’. Or as he declared in 1994 during the exhibition Night Lines in Utrecht: Your House is My House. The same intention was at the root of Sef’s involvement in the artist’s initiative Lokaal 01 in Breda, and for many years he devoted much of his energies to the art community. In this context, his fence of mirrored names in Rotterdam may be seen as a representation of the sense of community that Sef stood for and which is ultimately stronger than death. The Dutch art world has lost a wonderful man and we will miss him terribly! It is comforting to know that Sef will continue to encourage us subtly, from the other side, to make the world a more beautiful place.

Watch the ARTtube video about Sef Peeters from 2014 here. More information