Roger Raveel(Machelen-aan-de-Leie1921 - Deinze2013)

Roger Raveel is considered of one of Belgium's most important post-war artists. His work does not fit easily into the familiar compartmentalisation of art history. It is both timeless and contemporary. It shuns any partisan approach. The breeding ground for Raveel's art is his immediate environment, which does not however mean that Raveel is tied down to the locality. The things around him find a universal meaning in his paintings, drawings, objects and installations. man, woman, plants, a bicycle trailer, advertisements, technology are visualised in time and space.
His diverse plastic language is extraordinarily fascinating. Often contrasting documents or methods of painting bring a tension to his work that enables the viewer to rediscover reality. Roger Raveel was born on 15 July 1921 in Machelen-aan-de-Leie, a village near Ghent where he lives and works to this day. He studied at the Deinze Municipal Academy and at the Ghent Royal academy for Fine Arts. His teachers included Hubert Malfait and Jos Verdeghem. Via his friend, the writer Hugo Claus, at the beginning of the 1950s he came to know painters from the Cobra group, such as Karel Appel and Corneille. However, he wanted to tread quite a different path with his own painting. In 1962 he spent three months in Albisola Mare (Italy) where he worked and exhibited alongside artists like Lucio Fontana and Asger Jorn. In the second half of the 1950s he had moved towards a style of abstract painting which had its roots in the experience of the organic, the vegetative, the animal. However, in about 1962 he painted a triptych entitled 'Neerhof' ('The lower garden') which incorporated a cage containing a living dove. He wanted to set up a direct dialogue between art and reality.
In 1966-67 he transformed the cellar passages of the castle at Beervelde (near Ghent) into a pictorial environment. The project was in collaboration with Etienne Elias, Raoul De Keyser and Reinier Lucassen. After the paintings for Beervelde he created a number of painted objects such as the the 'Illusiegroep' ('Illusion Group') and 'Tuintje met karretje om de hemel te vervoeren' ('Garden with trailer to transport heaven'). His alert environmental awareness led the artist to visualise his commitment via happenings such as 1971's 'De Zwanen van Brugge' (The Swans of Bruges) and 'Raveel op de Leie' (Raveel on the Leie). Nearly 20 years later, in 1990, Roger Raveel was to mark the 50th anniversary of Belgium's entry into the Second World War by riding a wheeled painted wardrobe through the city centre of Brussels. In his home village Machelen aan de leie, where he works and lives a museum has been created. Where not only his work, but also temporary exhibitions are being held.