Bâti par  Victor Bourgeois pour son ami le sculpteur Oscar Jespers en 1928, l’atelier fonctionnera jusqu’à la mort de celui-ci en 1970

Cet espace de plus de 400 m2 fut à la fin des années 20 un haut lieu de rencontre de l’avant-garde artistique Européenne.


En septembre 2015, Jean-François Declerq décide d’en faire un centre d’art, un espace dédié à la rencontre et à des expositions. Et sous le nom de l’Atelier Jespers, la maison renoue avec sa mission initiale : montrer. Ecrin moderniste, la maison, accueille désormais des propositions artistiques de tous bords : design, arts plastiques et son, avec l’humble ambition de créer un dialogue entre le dessein de Victor Bourgeois et les oeuvres actuelles.




The modern confines of brutalist

architecture in post-war belgium

Curated by Tim Onderbeke

26/01/18 de 13:00 à 17:00

27/01/18 de 13:00 à 22:00 (nocturne)

28/01/18 de 13:00 à 17:00

From 29/01/18 to 25/02/18 by appointment only

© Juliaan Lampens (SOFAM) - Pierre Noêl

Triggered by some pictures he made of brutalist gems in Belgium and texts he read by Le Corbusier from his journal L’Esprit Nouveau, Ghent-based artist Tim Onderbeke decided to curate an exhibition about how modernism defined brutalist architecture in post-war Belgium.


It’s highly likely that modernist architect Le Corbusier and his Unité d’Habitation (1952) with which he introduced the world to bare concrete used as a primary material, formed the basis for a new architectural movement. Mostly through his writings for L’Esprit Nouveau, a polemic avant-garde review that fought against the styles of the ‘past’, Le Corbusier influenced many mid-century architects throughout the world. This resulted in the rise and spread of a new architectural style, named brutalism.

As an offspring of mid-century modernism brutalism shares two important features with its godfather: the fundamental principle that privileges function over form and a deep-rooted belief that architecture could transform society. Derived from the French term, béton brut, which translates to ‘rough concrete’, brutalism is an architectural style characterized by the use of concrete as a plain raw material. For the first time in history this rough material didn’t get covered up by a facade. No hiding, no masks, nothing tidied up: brutalist architecture is what it is. Unfortunately, during 1950-1970, when brutalism became one of the dominant architectural movements, it was demonized and hated by many. Nobody recognized the progressive and pure beauty of brutalist architecture.


Nowadays the villain is making his comeback as a hero, finally getting the credit he deserves. This expo will pay tribute to the honest poetry of brutal architecture. Besides his photos of concrete buildings by post-war Belgian architects like Juliaan Lampens, Paul Felix, Alfons Hoppenbrouwers and Paul Meekels, Tim Onderbeke will show rare objects and furniture pieces designed by these brutalist architects or designers working with them, like stained glass artist Michel Martens and metal artist Roger Bonduel. These palpable objects form the perfect addition to the pictures in order to get a fuller comprehension of the pure poetry of brutalist architecture and the use of it.

Furthermore, many of the brutalist architects considered themselves to be total artists making a Gesamtkunstwerk — German word for ‘total work of art’. Not only did they control the design of the building, but also everything that furnished it. From the flatware to the drapes to the furniture, they all became pieces of the total work of art. And besides contributing to the unified aesthetic experience, the main goal of this brutal Gesamtkunstwerk was to merge the brutalist ideology into everyday life. Because like the modernists, the initial endeavor of brutalist architects was to take things to a higher level, to reshape society, to create an ideal man. No need to tell that ‘honesty’ and ‘simplicity’ describe the bare essence of the brutalist ideology.


By highlighting the influence of modernism on brutalist architecture, Onderbeke proves that brutalism is far more than a building in raw concrete. It’s also a simple chair made out of the right materials shaped in a simple form that follows its function. It’s a perfect symbiosis between functionality and aesthetic beauty. It's an attempt to create a new Utopia. It’s concrete poetry.



Chapter 02


ATT 2018 fair - Bozar Brussels

26/01/18 de 18:00 à 03:00

27/01/18 de 14:00 à 21:00

28/01/18 de 10:00 à 18:00

For their 13th event, Atelier Jespers will present their second chapter outdoors at Art TRUC TROC 2018, BOZAR. Itinérance #2 combines 3 generations of Belgians and French that embrace the world of design practice. Also for the 14th edition of Art TRUC TROC, a space of 250m2 will be dedicated to objects, lighting, furniture and tapestry.


Project itinérance #2 focuses on the creation of contemporary design of which the curatorship is provided by Jean-François Declercq. This project falls within the activities of Atelier Jespers and is presented during public events (shows, exhibitions or cultural events) to show the spirit and creativity of the designers’ know-how. It’s the perfect occasion for Atelier Jespers to push their boundaries and reach a larger audience. With 14.000 visitors in 3 days, Art TRUC TROC provides Atelier Jespers the opportunity to give young designers a platform to gain more visibility.


Itinérance #2, in partnership with Art TRUC-TROC but also with Spazio Nobile and the online platform Kolkhose, is expected to showcase a coherent ensemble without disregarding harmony and innovation.



© Atelier Jespers - Erfprinslaan 149 Avenue du Prince Héritier -  Brussel 1200 Bruxelles

Contact : Jean-Francois Declercq +32 475 64 95 81- Elsa Sarfati +33 6 10 84 27 48  -