Balder Biography

Baudouin van Hoecke, known as Balder (Ghent 1945-2014), a self-taught painter, sculptor and silkscreen print artist, studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris and learned furniture restoration in a workshop working for the Musées Nationaux de France. In 1966, he met his companion, Mi van Landuyt, at the Ghent Academy before learning English in London and deciding to become a painter. For five months, he lived near Montpellier in the South of France, making sketches and drawings from nature and on the theme of grape harvests. In 1967, he went back to Ghent, then in the throes of the sixties' counter-culture: protests, student unrest, hippies, flower power and movements against established art. In this context, Balder co-founded the "Nieuwe Rococo" ("New Rococo") group, which included eight friends and artists from Ghent: Frank Liefooghe, Leo Copers, Mi van Landuyt, Desy Deseyns, Arnold Goes, Frank Vanden Berghe, and André Naessens. "Nieuwe Rococo" did not have a single style; visual expression was entirely up to the individual. The name was based on a work entitled, "New-Roc-Art", which became "Nieuwe Rococo". Chosen for its poetic ring, it had nothing to do with reviving the Rococo movement, although the group did have some affinity with that style. Together, they paint a wall of expression in homage to Roger Raveel. In 1968, Balder, who had lived in Amsterdam since the previous year, started painting. He won the Prix Jeune Peinture Belge. The "Nieuwe Rococo" artists exhibited for the first time at the Kaleidoskoop gallery in Ghent.

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A year later, the "Nieuwe Rococo", in partnership with a group of Dutch artists, produced half of a 210-metre long painting designed to "wrap" the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, a major contemporary art museum. The idea was to put "the museum in the painting and not the painting in the museum".

In 1970, Balder undertook his first journey to Carrara, Italy, the world centre of marble and sculpture, where he met contemporary artists from around the world. In 1971, he returned there and travelled to many countries (France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, England, the Netherlands, Thailand, the Philippines, and the United States) on study trips until 1983. In 1975, Balder and his wife, Mi van Landuyt, bought a pleasant house in the Ghent countryside and never left it. In 1985, the couple opened a graphic art studio where they made silkscreen prints of their works with other artists, including Roger Raveel, Raoul De Keyzer, Elias, Leo Copers, and Dierickx. Balder participated in many group exhibitions and had several solo shows in Belgium and abroad.

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