Jean-Claude DRESSE

Jean-Claude Dresse


Jean-Claude Dresse was born in Charleroi on 8th September 1946. He studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi where he mainly worked with Marcel Gibon. In 1985, he held his first personal exhibition in Brussels. Since then, he has regularly been exhibiting in Belgium, in France and in the Netherlands. In 1990, he made, for the Belgian State, a 90 m2 monumental fresco in the entrance hall of the new administrative area of the city of Charleroi.

Jean-Claude Dresse is one of the few artists who, relying on the great examples of the past, was able to revisit and recalibrate them according to his personal vision. He creates this way an emotion that brings back to the obscure sources of our affectivity which he enriches thanks to the contribution of a carefully designed production and of secret colours and harmonies in order to make us enjoy some kind of mystery. Served by the powers of his experience and of an exceptional technique, he manages to adorn convention with all the attractions of imagination and reaches an unusual symbolism of a very particular seduction. It's not by chance that Jean-Claude Dresse's paintings have the combined charms of a disrupted realism and of a poetical escape, they are moreover admirably served by a “capacity of making” which impresses, all the more so that he is never overburdened with this “know-how” of which the hyperrealists are nostalgic. His work is a “global harmony” which he formulates with his own means: the poetical or symbolical meaning of the painting holds the artist as much as its own plastic splendor. For him, image and color have to be brought to a certain degree of “necessary richness”..


“Delicate, skillful, refined, inventive, Jean-Claude Dresse is one of the foremost artists of the Walloon school of imagination and fantasy. He is an inspired visionary: he sees the world with the eyes of the initiated, but remains keen on daily realities, on the sometimes unreal beauty of a fruit or of the luminous charm of a young fragile girl like a fine piece of porcelain. He has got a whole stock of beautiful enigmatic images where the conjurer seems like of bronze and of old silver, where the inventor on his frail machine with parchment wings gets ready to take flight, where the barrel organ thrills his bells and unfolds the zigzags of his punched scores.” (Stéphane REY)

Jean-Claude DRESSE, born on 8th September 1946, comes from a family of born artists. In the lineage, let's mention a grandfather who was an amateur painter, a father both sculptor and painter as well as a cousin, first prize-winner of violin at the Conservatoire.
During four years, at the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Charleroi, Jean-Claude followed the drawing class given by Marcel Gibon.
Passionately admiring the great Renaissance painters like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci, drawing becomes his daily bread.
At the same time, starting to learn arts and crafts with his father, he will collaborate during twenty years on the creation and realization of contemporary art furniture; following materials will be used: steel, bronze, semiprecious stones.
This job requiring a perfect knowledge of drawing will help him greatly. We often forget that drawing makes part of many creations like for example the wide field of cars, fashion, advertising, jewelery.

Jean-Claude DRESSE's visionary outpourings often push him, for his sole pleasure, to realize a drawing of architectural compositions setting Utopian constructions, empty of all human presence. His main arts and crafts activity made it possible for him to prop up his drawing and above all to earn his living.

At the beginning, this economic independence brought him a great freedom: that of not having to count only on drawing, a very important artistic practice but which will only be the primordial support in his career as a painter.
His father Marcel, coming to retiring age and the arts and crafts job becoming too difficult to manage by only one person, « his secret garden» will become his main work ; a transition which will take three more years, during which he will develop his future technique with linseed oil, that of glazes (successive paint layers giving a transparency aspect to the painting). This technique will be, for him, the best way to give the expected effect to his compositions where the surfaces of light will contrast with the shadow outpourings.
So, his painting, often described as imaginary realism, to the detriment of a present-day art where the notion of 'beautiful', of technical quality is often mentioned as a handicap, even a major fault, positions itself outside the fashions, he favors a timeless art towards collectors anxious to hang, in their interior, paintings which provide emotions, dream, give rise to interrogations without great speculative perspectives. The affirmation these days of plastic decisions which draw their roots in a traditional heritage and a respect for the job, underlines a sturdy character which doesn't let itself seduce by the changing esthetical atmospheres of the moment. Succinctly, here is the course of a present-day painter for whom the artistic adventure continues, with in the near future, the preparation, for 2010, of an exhibition, in Paris at the prestigious Taylor foundation.

Jean-Claude DRESSE - painter

The imaginary, the fabulous painted in the delicacy, the refinement of oriental painting irrigate this artist's creation. Between reality and dream, each of his compositions take you away in another universe, unknown and inhabited by references to daily life. And it's probably this gap, this inventive spirit which seduces the spectator. The extreme fineness of the stroke delimits a drawing with a subtle perfection and if Jean-Claude Dresse often seizes the memory of greats moments of the past, he rewrites them with intelligence, creating atypical works, bathed in harmony. Young women outside time, with rare elegance, full of charm, are numerous. These paintings which have a remarkable construction evoke Copernicus, musicians as well as rockets and one is seized by this reinvented world in a palette where the milky whites interact under the light with softened reds, ochers. In a meticulous, precise writing without excess, this artist composes a poetical, original space.