The Artist Birthday Series

Paul Joostens

6 images from the "Les Mollusques," series by Paul Joostens. Seen here as part of "The Visible Vagina" exhibition at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art gallery, NYC in 2010
6 images from the “Les Mollusques,” series by Paul Joostens in 1925. Seen here as part of “The Visible Vagina” exhibition at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art gallery, NYC in 2010
"The Procession," 19 from the "Les Mollusques" series by Paul Joostens
“The Procession,” 1925, from the “Les Mollusques” series by Paul Joostens

Around 1925 he returned to the avant garde. From then began years of poverty, often extreme poverty. In 1930 he began a relationship with the French poet Rose-Marie Malet. After her death in 1938, he began to retreat and isolate himself from the world. He had great difficulty in any social situation and eventually broke with his friends. Unhappy and alone, he lived in his studio, and due to unpaid rents, was forced to move from one studio after another.

"Drie Vrouwen," 1938 by Paul Joostens
“Drie Vrouwen,” 1938 by Paul Joostens

During this time he created his own style, his own mythical world: the “Joosten Gothic“. Inspired by Hans Memling and the mystique of the Flemish Primitives he had admired in his youth, he painted numerous Madonnas and other religious scenes, but often they were portrayed in a pornographic or what was considered a “disrespectful” manner.

"The Immaculate Conception," by Paul Joostens
“The Immaculate Conception,” by Paul Joostens, c. 1940

In addition, he drew and painted young women from the Antwerp area, he called “Poezeloezen.” These works were an expression of his love-hate relationship women, a subject which had obsessed him.

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