Luc-Peter Crombé

Opwijk, January 14, 1920 – Sint-Martens-Latem, May 17, 2005.

His artistic education began at the Sint-Lucas academy in Ghent with G. Hermans and Jos Verdegem, after which he attended Constant Permeke’s class at the Nationaal Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp. After which he attended Constant Permeke’s class at the Nationaal Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp. Following this intense training, he continued with a special training in the Ecole du Louvre (archaeology and restoration), after which he put this training into practice, including in the studio of Van de Velde (Ghent) and in the Louvre with Professor Serulaz (Paris).

He was awarded the following prizes:

  • Prize for live model, 1947, Antwerp
  • Provincial prize, 1954, East Flanders
  • Prize for graphics, 1955, Frankfurt
  • Benevenuto prize, 1956, Milan
  • Sagrada family prize for religious art, 1957, Barcelona
  • Distinguished Award at World’s Fair, 1964, New York
  • New York city prize, 1964, New York
  • Honorary prize, 1965, Detroit

The earliest works by Luc-Peter Crombé are in a more intimate and decorative style. From the 1950s onwards, the influences from the South became apparent, beginning with the use of tempera-technique and in particular in the area of the interplay between colour and light. The figure also gets its place as the main motif (children’s world, portraits and background characters), pastel and charcoal drawings. At the end of the 1950s, he travelled to Corsica. The history of the French island was not unknown to him. His focus was on the origin and erosion of the rocks. This is how the Corsica works were created. The natural elements are brushed using flexible artistic styles on a broad and larger scale in the foreground. This is how Luc-Peter Crombé learned abstraction. This period, which runs until around 1965, is therefore considered to be his first period with his Corsica series, Italy, Morocco and Spanish series.

The religious art of Luc-Peter Crombé in the late 1950s and early 1960s culminates with the painting of his famous Way of the Cross hangs in the church of Scherpenheuvel, De Mariahal.

At the end of the 1960s and early 1970s, Luc-Peter Crombé has two work-studios: in addition to the Sint-Martens-Latem studio, a studio was also established in Maaseik. The smooth brush strokes dominate from that moment. During this period, he mainly produces pastel and charcoal drawings.

The Latem period is characterized by the following successive series:

  • • ‘Tribute to life’ where movement plays an important role. The movement in dance and theatrical life are very important and dominant subjects. This reflects a move away from religious art in its purest form to embrace a celebration of life and cultivate a sense of belonging to a community, with close ties and traditions. Yet this period in his painting also reflects the changing society around him with traditional patriarchal relationships collapsing and being replaced with less stable male-female relationships.
  • • The ‘Lutander’-series: 2000 years of history, here the artist makes one think about very contemporary themes. Man and his beast and his god; his angel and his devil, his selfishness and need, his desire for renewal and self-affirmation, his life through destruction and his destruction through multiplication. These are all themes which reflect inner struggles, coming terms with the past, embracing new identities and new power relationships in a society that is changing at an almost breathless pace. The artist is focused on reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God.
  • • ‘Petruliër’-series or the individual awareness which follows the Enlightenment: a series of paintings that translate themes from antiquity into the modern context. The male-female relationship is presented as an unstable relationship in contrast with the more traditional relationships of the past. Gender relations are depicted as power relations as part of a coercive hierarchy. T he paintings depict a more enlightened vision of the woman, moving away from powerless innocent figures (quiet, obedient, accommodating) to more powerful figures.
  • ‘• Decorith’-series is an indictment of the power struggle of the emancipation movement, which is interwoven throughout this series. Gender roles which tend to perpetuate the power inequalities that they are based on are transformed in this series. Gender shapes how the artist understands the concept of power relationships, and his works represent the struggle to supplant hierarchical and traditional power relationships which he inherently sees as reflecting a male bias.
  • • ‘Licrobert-Hil-Climi’-series: here a comparison is made between the human being after the Enlightenment and the human being from the guarded world of antiquity. His work begins to show a degree of individualism in the woman, focusing on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own actions and choices.

In addition to the tempera-technique,the Fresco was his favourite technique. Many subjects such as the lace workers, landscapes, animals and intimate subjects were developed using this technique.

In his final period, Luc-Peter Crombé would work through the drawings that had remained in the studio with very surprising results. The backgrounds are often reduced to a game of surfaces. The stark contrast of figuration and background gives the works a more sensitive touch. Colour contrasts seem to harmoniously mix with a common colouring. The continued prominence of the female figure begins to change, based on the premise that with sexual liberation, the woman first becomes more conscious of the ways one’s gender identity and sexuality have been shaped by society and then intentionally constructing (and becoming free to express) one’s authentic gender identity and sexuality.