Jacques Deneef, lives in Antwerp, came to the world of art through oil and acrylic painting, producing nudes in red sanguine chalk and experimenting with mixed media.
Excited by the possibilities of found objects from an early age, Deneef created his first jewels around the age of 12. He had started sorting through the refuse from Philips, where his father worked, picking out all sorts of objects and material. At his grandfather’s, who was a glassmaker, he recovered test tubes that became all sorts of vases, pen-holders and candlesticks. This was the start of his current work which is still – even today – often created with material that he finds.
Deneef is fascinated by basic materials, such as glass, wood, leather, paper and wax. Starting from their given forms, he recycles and transforms them, often combining one with the other. He likes to transform used objects to give them a new life. These things, which have already had their own existence, are turned into something new and made useful in some other way. In this way, he offers them a new existence, fixing them into a final destination: a work of art.
For example, he gathers leftover wax from candles as well as old magazines, which he then carefully decomposes. Letting his imagination run, he combines them to create a totally new object. So the magazine and candle both get a new life at the same time. In the same way, he recovers old books that are bent, ripped and torn up. So they are transformed and then given a new purpose. The books had already been thought about, then written, printed, sold, read and perhaps shared before ending up in a waste basket. By recovering them, the artist gives them a second, different, life. The book becomes a painting, collage or sculpture.
The path always leads through recovery. Jacques Deneef experiments using waste that he finds, but never limits himself to one single technique. Yesterday it might have been paper, magazines, wax, metal or wood. Today, his attention might be caught by photo negatives. Perhaps tomorrow PET bottles will spark his imagination.
The rebirth of abandoned material and objects, either used or worn-out, is the very essence of Jacques Deneef’s work.
The artist studied advertising at Saint Luc college (Brussels) and started working in the sector. He later designed for the prestigious Delvaux label between 1996 and 2003.
In 2003, he decided to work as an independent designer, creating new products and providing development consultancy in sectors such as furniture and accessories, as well as textiles, decoration, lighting and jewellery.