Jozef Mees (1998-1987) is a Belgian visual artist who was active as a painter, architect, and interior designer. A student of Jean Delvin, Mees graduated from the Academy of Ghent in 1920. He then went to work in his family’s furniture business. Although he started his career as a cabinetmaker and decorator, he continued to nurture his creative aspirations and his artistic work was exhibited for the first time in 1924. However, it would be until after World War Two that Mees would explicitly focus on his painting developments.
Mees’s early paintings, 1940, are characterized by Flemish Expressionism. These works are animistic in nature and show monumental figures and structured landscapes. They carry with them his admiration for Frits Van Den Berghe. Like Van Den Berghe, he managed to reconcile the vitality of Expressionism with his own open mind.
From the 1950s onwards Mees began to work in a more abstract manner. A fact that would mark the further course of his career. These lyrical canvases carry an emotional charge reminiscent of the École de la Paris, Jeune Peinture Belge, Action Painting and post-expressionism. He did not shy away from the use of matter. Within this colorful, layered work, light, form, and content, therefore, play a prominent role.
Around 1967, Mees opted for more measured, structured compositions, preferring pure flat and sterile line work. One can speak of a change within his style, but he retained his distinct color palette. Characteristic is the way he contrasts his bright colors with a dark background, giving his works a distinctly flamboyant character.
Mees also played an important role in the Ghent and national art scene. He was a co-founder of the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens and of the Association of the Museum of Contemporary Art Ghent. As a result, he stood at the foundation of the SMAK, which would later fall under the reign of Jan Hoet. It is thanks to Mees’ open-mindedness and his passionate defense of contemporary art that a new generation of painters such as Roger Raveel, Camille D’havé, Frans Piens, Pierre Vlerick, Marcel Ysewijn… was given the opportunity to show their work.
1960 Galerie Du Haut Pave, Parijs,
1968 Retrospectief. Museum voor Schone Kunsten. Gent
1972 Centrum voor kunst en Cultuur, Gent,
1971 Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussel ,
1970, Man en vrouw, Gent,
1978 Grand Palais, Parijs, Josef Mees.
Retrospective. Deurle Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens 1988.
De jaren ’60. Kunst in België.
Gent 1979, Contrast. Belgische Kunst van heden.
Works in Museums Ghent & Deurle.