Paul Gees

Born in 1949 in Aalst, Belgium, Paul Gees grew up in an artistic environment as his father was a renowned photographer. He studied interior architecture between 1969 and 1973 at Sint-Lukas School of Art Brussels. Paul Gees was one of the key artists to confront and renovate the production of sculpture in Belgium, introducing into it a sense of precarious instability and ephemerality that reflected the very social restlessness of the cultural milieu in the wake of the 1968 student uprisings.

Following his graduation, Paul Gees went initially both to work and to exhibit his work at the Center for Social Innovation of Aalst. At this early time of his career, Gees had been impressed by the new directions in art opened up to him in 1972 by documenta 5. Here, he encountered Fluxus, performance, Land Art and Minimal Art as well as, especially, Arte Povera He himself names Richard Serra and Carl André as great examples, but Gees has in fact created a world all his own. His favourite materials are repeatedly confronted with primary forces.
There are very few artists who have an oeuvre as consistent as that of Paul Gees. Since the early ’80s, his sculptures explore a single theme: tension.

Beginning in 1976 Paul Gees worked on both performance art and sculpture. With the support of the New Reform gallery of Roger D’Hondt, in October 1978 he executed the opening piece in the Performance Art Festival in the Brussels Beursschouwburg. At the same time, he produced what he called “environmental sculptures”: landscape interventions or installations made of basic, natural material such as hay, slate stones, tree trunks and cut wood that engaged in social discourse.
Increasingly, his work became less explicitly political, moving towards a more nuanced and intelligent exploration of the political and cultural value of materials, both natural and artificial, as they are placed within the built environment.