MIJMERENDE MUZE (JAN ALFONS KEUSTERMANS)
High above the Hospitaalstraat is a covered footbridge, linking the two sections of the AZ Nikolaas, which were formerly two separate hospitals “Maria Middelares” and “Stadskliniek”. Before reaching this point, we see, to our left and behind an imposing iron gate, the colourful castle ‘Moerlandkasteel’, a protected building since 1976. This building houses a room with wall pictures of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The ceiling is decorated with a copy of the zodiac of the Osiris temple in Dendera. This can be visited by appointment only.
Meanwhile, to our right, our attention is drawn to the ‘Mijmerende Muze’.
This reserved though lively bronze sculpture, designed in 1978 by Jan Alfons Keustermans, was originally meant to be a funerary monument for Mark Macken, his teacher at the Higher Institute in Antwerpen. Shocked by his sudden death, Keustermans designed a sculpture symbolising not the transience of the body but the immortality of the muse.
The supple, natural shapes of the body are stylised but very clearly recognisable. The artist has contemplated deeply when shaping, he does not distance himself from nature but uses her outlines as an instrument to reach the idea he wants to express. It remains a quest for balance between substance and spirit. Keustermans’ work is mainly monumental with a figurative styling.
The stooped posture with raised knees, the tender gesture of the hands and the facial expression of the girl exemplify sadness, surrender and meditation. We rightfully speak of a work of art that stirs one’s emotions by its beauty.
Jan Alfons Keustermans is a sculptor, medallist and sketcher. Studied at the National Higher Institute of fine Arts in Antwerpen. Till 2000 he was head of the City Academy of Antwerpen. He got several prizes for sculpture, namely in 1958: ‘Prize Mistler’, 1959: ‘Prize Jussiant’, 1960: ‘Prize T. Van Lerius’ and ‘Prize of Solidarity’ (Club XII), 1961: ‘Prize Janssens de Varebeke’, 1962: ‘Prize M. Oppeneimer’ (Club XII), 1963: ‘Prize Hendrickx’ (Club XII), 1964: ‘Prize Bugatti.’ He made over 750 works of art, many of them are portraits. He was head of the Academy of Fine Arts in Turnhout. As a medallist, he won the competition of the Ministery 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