Jan Fabre


Jan Fabre, photo Stephen Mattues

photo Stephen Mattues

Jan Fabre (born 1958, Belgium) graduated from the Municipal Institute of Decorative Arts and Crafts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In the late 1970s, the still very young Jan Fabre caused a furore as a performance artist. His ‘money performances’ involved setting fire to bundles of money collected from the audience in order to make drawings with the ashes. Two years later The Power of Theatrical Madness challenged the foundations of the European theatre establishment.

Since then Jan Fabre has grown to become one of the most versatile artists on the international stage. He has made a clean break with the conventions of contemporary theatre by introducing the concept of ‘real-time performance’ – sometimes called ‘living installations’ – and explores radical choreographic possibilities as a means of resurrecting classical dance. Fabre is renowned for expanding the horizons of every genre in which he pursues his artistic vision. He deals with such themes as violence, lust, beauty and erotica. The body in all its forms has been the subject of his investigations since the early 1980s.

Productions such as Da un’altra Faccia del Tempo, Je suis sang, Angel of Death, Quando l’uomo principale è una donna, Orgy of Tolerance, Preparatio Mortis and Prometheus – Landscape II have earned Fabre international acclaim. Over the years, he has also built up an exceptional oeuvre as a visual artist. He has become well known to a wide audience with Tivoli Castle (1990), Heaven of Delight (2002), The Man Who Measures the Clouds (1998), Searching for Utopia (2003) and Totem (2000–2004). Recent, much-discussed exhibitions include Homo Faber (2006), Hortus/Corpus (2011), From the Cellar to the Attic – From the Feet to the Brain (2008 and 2009), The Hour Blue (2011) and Stigmata: Actions and Performances 1976–2013 (2013 and 2015). He was the first living artist to present his work at the Louvre, Paris (L’Ange de la metamorphose, 2008), and will be the first living artist to create a large scale exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg (2016).