The Voeten Collection represents a unique combination of both Belgian and international works. Currently it comprises over 1700 art pieces that have been collected during a period of more than 40 years. They are exhibited in two separate locations – at the Art Center close to Herentals and at the sculpture park near Gheel.

Krum Damianov

The Saturnians, wood, metal, brass, h: 600 cm

High on the prow of a ship, satyrs, playing the flute, are merrily breaking the silence in the Sculpture Park in Geel. The versatility of the famous Bulgarian artist Krum Damianov, born in 1937 in Rakitovo, keeps the viewer constantly intrigued. Twelve totally different artworks, spread throughout the park, move the spectators masterfully. The works of Damianov are very different in terms of themes and material as well.

For The Saturnians (2006) the artist found inspiration in the Greek-Roman mythological tales. These tell us that the divine Saturn, the Roman equivalent of the Greek Kronos, was banished by his youngest son Zeus or Jupiter. Saturn wandered around and came by boat to Italian territory where he became king. He learned the people the art of agriculture. He is the god of agriculture and sowed grain. The Latin word sator means sower.The planet 'Saturn' is named after him as well as our 'Saturday'. In the month of December, after the harvest, 'the Saturnalia' took place, the feast in honor of Saturn. The festivities lasted for one or several days. One is not sure about this but December 17 was the official holiday. The end of the agricultural year was celebrated. Schools and the tribunal remained closed. Public life was at a standstill for one day. Offers were brought into the temple of Saturn followed by an official banquet outdoors. A remarkable habit was that during the meals the gentlemen, at highest exception, served their slaves. For once they were equally opponents on the dice. So the men thanked their servants for labor. Gifts were distributed. This use can be found in our Christmas and New Year's celebration.

Most of the time the excessive drinking during Saturnalia ended in a bacchanal or orgies. In the history of art, the figure of Bacchus is often represented in the company of little satyrs, cheerful erotic creatures with paws of a buck, horns and a tail. Their attribute is a flute, often a double flute, that among the Greeks and the Romans was very well known. The satyrs symbolize lust and temptation.

In The Saturnians of Krum Damianov, a wide-legged wooden figure maintains the exuberant orchestra of satyrs firmly together as a powerful conductor, on the bow of a ship. The simple materials, such as pieces of a wooden door and tread plates of a bus, remind of Arte Povera. Remarkable are the legs of the satyrs made of jawbones and teeth of horses.

In 1962 Damianov completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. He specialized in monumental decorative sculpture with professor Lubomir Dalchev (1902-2002). He received several prestigious awards and now he teaches sculpture at the Academy from which he graduated. The artist worked on imposing communist monuments in Bulgaria, dismantled after the fall of the totalitarian regime in 1989. He gained notoriety abroad and many of his best works are displayed in galleries and private collections in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, the United States of America and the Republic of Korea. For example, he was commissioned to create a large outdoor sculpture for the Olympics in Seoul in 1988.

The Collection Hugo Voeten contains 15 works made by Krum Damianov in the Art Center in Herentals and in the Sculpture Park in Geel as well. The artist not only finds inspiration in mythology but also in the Bible, Bulgarian history and tradition. Firstly his work shows the apotheosis of the grandeur and suffering in Bulgarian history but then also the tormented agony of the human being. The versatility of Damianov is reflected in his portraits, for which he often chooses powerfull personalities like Picasso. The Bulgarian Professor Dessislava Mincheva wrote about Krum Damianov: "He is like The Rolling Stones – an artist with an extraordinary past and an extraordinary present. But he could equally well count on the future. He is simply ageless."

Text: Myriam Geurts