Kobe – Ingenious simplicity

Kobe, artistic pseudonym of Jacques Saelens (1950-2014), made sculptures that flirt with two-dimensionality his trademark. His broad, thin figures hardly use the third dimension and incarnate quite a few contradictions.


Kobe’s brainchildren look lyrical, generally also unforced carefree, but they are still in a tight straitjacket. They radiate a contagious, cheerful simplicity, but at the same time are extremely ingenious. They have sprung from the brain of a perfectionist and aesthete, who towards the realisation in three dimensions, implacably rejects everything that is anecdotal. They are sculptures with voluptuous, supple lines, but built around a sterile geometric carcass. They seduce by their round, feminine forms and cheerful poses, but by their superhuman perfection and mysterious calm they also shut out. Faces are closed, stripped of personal features. Thematically, the female figure and the horse dominate the oeuvre. Classic themes with a long art-historical tradition. But Kobe doesn’t just carve ‘a’ woman or ‘a’ horse, he sculpts archetypes. His women and horses contain the essence of their being in their simplicity. The simplicity that Kobe’s sculptures radiate, conceals their ingenious nature. Between idea and finished image lies a world of abstraction and reasoning. Thinking about possibilities and solving problems of form.