Jesse Willems

Jesse Willems (°1984) has an interest in exploring the boundaries between the figurative and abstract aspects of street life. When his great grandfather left him a collection of 800 old National Geographic magazines, he started scanning them, looking for tiny abstractions in photographs from the fifties. Thus creating contemporary collages, while working with 70 year old materials. In both his photography and collage work, he works in this same manner. Scanning the streets for small fragments of everyday life, often overlooked, enlarging them until their beauty can no longer be overlooked. This first resulted in the series ‘The future - and other jet age inventions’, a very first solo gallery show in April 2017.


This first show was a pivoting point toward an even more abstract view on everyday life. Inspired by the avant-gardist movement of the interbellum, and the stoïc philosophy of Epictetus, his work took a more personal approach, closer towards the needs felt in 21st century life. His work got smaller, leaving more space for silence. Ultimately leading to the series ‘Chresis ton phantasion’. The rational testing of different impressions, to see whether or not they deserve our assent. By eliminating all clutter, all that remains is the few fragments worth remembering.


Jesse’s work is in the collections of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MAS Museum Antwerp, and has appeared in publications such as Billboard magazine (US), The New York Times (US), The Times (UK), De volkskrant (NL), …


His first book, Barak Friture was published in the fall of 2014, selling both in Europe as in the US, UK and Asia. The book was on display in stores such as Colette in Paris, and Tate Modern in London.


The collage he made for hip-hopartist Coely earned him a Red Bull Elektropedia Award (1st place, Best Artwork) and a MIA’s nomination for best Artwork.



The future – and other jet age inventions – Solo show, Samuel Maenhoudt Gallery, Knokke

MAS – Antwerpen à la carte - Antwerp


Barak Friture – Belgian Embassy, Kinshasa, Congo



Chresis ton Phantasion – BAD - Solo show, Gent


Fallen Idols – Native – Solo show, Brussels


MAS – Antwerpen à la carte - Antwerp


Barak Friture – Belgian Embassy, Kinshasa, Congo



919 – Artelli Gallery – Antwerp


TBC - Verbeke Foundation


MAS – Antwerpen à la carte - Antwerp


Barak Friture – Belgian Embassy, Kinshasa, Congo

© 2019



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