In the Hospitaalstraat, opposite the hospital, is a bas-relief ‘Figuur in Lover’,(‘Figure in Foliage’), on the wall near the entrance of ‘De Plataan’, a care home for elderly people needing extra care, due to their vulnerability.

The poignancy of the residents’ situation is sensitively portrayed by the artist. The terrified, naked human person hides in a niche of protective foliage, thus expressing both the notion of vulnerability and the unity of man and nature.

Jan Alfons Keustermans has executed the bas-relief in red sandstone. It is a textbook example of ‘a taille directe’, the oldest form of sculpture: the work almost organically grows out of the shape of the natural stone and thus expresses the sculpture’s deeper meaning.

Keustermans learned the sculptor’s trade by being a wood carver, a restorer, and by working for tombstone makers. His main themes are female nudes and compositions of multiple figures. He works in bluestone, bronze, gypsum, clay, marble, polyester as well as in stone. Initially he also made a lot of religious works in different types of wood. In the eighties several of his works were inspired by the fear of the atomic bomb that might destroy all human life. Keustermans’ work develops from figurative to completely abstract design. He described the abstract works as ‘commemorative stones’. His drawings are sculptures on paper.


KEUSTERMANS Jan Alfons (1940)

Jan Alfons Keustermans is a sculptor, medallist and sketcher, was trained among others  at the National High Institute of fine Arts in Antwerpen. Till 2000 he was head of the Municipal Academy of fine Arts in Turnhout. He got several prizes for sculpture:  MistlerPrize (1958), Jussiant Prize (1959), T. Van Lerius Prize (1960) and Prize of Solidarity (1960, Club XII, Antwerp Academy) Janssens de Varebeke Prize (1961) , Oppenheimer Family Prize (1962- Club XII, Antwerp Academy),  Hendrickx Prize (1963 - Club XII, Antwerp Academy), Bugatti Prize (1964).  He has created over 750 works of art, many of them portraits. As a medallist, he won the competition of the Ministry of Finance for the design of the portrait of king Albert II on the Belgian coins in 1994. In 1997 he designed a similar version for the Euro coins.

Keustermans’ smaller works are signed with the monogram ‘Jake’.

Kunst in de Stad, September 7th 1985