|© Danny Willems|
Johan Daenen (1958 Brussels, Belgium) followed from the age of 7 drawing and painting classes under supervision of Michèle Purnal and Lucien Braet at the Académie de Dessin et des Arts Décoratifs de Boitsfort. In 1980, he graduated from the Plastic Arts Department of the Sint-Lukas Arts School in Brussels, and for his graduation project was offered his first solo exhibition at the Sint-Lukas Art Gallery, Brussels. Additionally, he studied film and editing at the Audiovisual Department of the University of Leuven, Belgium.
After his studies, Daenen, together with Stefan Loeckx and Stijn De Witte, opened and coordinated the Brussels cultclub EX-, a 1000 day exhibition incorporating music, art, installations and performances (oct 2 1982 - jun 17 1984).
Since 1982, Daenen has focused his work on the design and creation of various scenographies and monumental paintings, objects, and sets for television, theater, opera and dance. He has become the regular scenographer of two outspoken Belgian directors: Jan Decorte (Bloet/Brussels) and Jacques Delcucellerie (Groupov/Liège). He is also the backdrop painter for the dance performances of Wim Vandekeybus (Ultima Vez/Brussels). In addition, he works with other directors and choreographers in various theaters and opera houses such as De Munt/La Monnaie (Brussels), Opera de Wallonie (Liège), Toneelhuis (Antwerp), Théâtre de la Place (Liège), Théâtre National (Brussels), Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (Brussels) and Kaaitheater (Brussels). He has taught scenography at the Posthogeschool voor Podiumkunsten POPOK (Antwerp, Belgium) and is currently teaching scenography at the Toneelacademie (Maastricht, Netherlands) and School of Arts (Ghent, Belgium).
Besides his scenographic works, Daenen has always stayed active as an autonomous visual artist. His oeuvre consists of drawings, paintings, assemblies, installations, objects and videos.
Johan Daenen archives imagery from his surrounding triviality : as the basis for his work, he uses own picture material and even images from advertising brochures. But also the universal themes from the history of painting such as portraits, landscapes, still lifes, animals are the inducement and the starting point for the creation of a new autonomous image. By analyzing, dissecting, deduplicate and multiply this imagery, he 're-images' the banality. On the one hand Daenen mastered the skill and craftsmanship of someone with an exceptional gift for graphics , a delicate color balance, proportion and composition (the pole Diego Velasquez). On the other hand he is fascinated by spontaneity , chance and a deceptive , almost childlike nonchalance (the pole Caves of Lascaux). Both poles are however complementary rather than antithetical. This is reflected in its color treatment : raw wipe technique clearly shows an impulsive emotional value, while the choice of colors and their interrelation indicates his aesthetic intent and subtle sense of counterweights. Johan Daenen employs various styles , genres and disciplines to express his artistic imagery. Outlines are reduced to the bare essentials lines like primitive art and exquisite graphic artists. His sculptural objects and assemblages are products of the same initial fascination. They move between life and death, natural and artificial, organic and mechanical, tribal and urban. They become curious contemporary relics which, although created from the banality of our immediate surroundings but still refer to a higher quality.
In February 2012 he was the central figure in DE CANVASCONNECTIE a critically acclaimed cultural tv-show on Canvas, the second channel of the Flemish public broadcasting company VRT.
Johan Daenen lives and works in Brussels and Paris.