When you access the wooden promenade opposite the statue of ‘Sint-Nicolaas’ you come across an eye-catching bronze statue of a horse and rider, protectively holding a child.

It is an image typical of the seventies of the past century (1977), the era of the cold war and the nuclear threat. Quite often a horse is represented as a muscular and heroic animal. In this instance, this is not the case at all. Horse, rider and child are deformed, deteriorated, in tatters, and holes are visible. The posture however is expressive and represents a hopeless situation. ‘Paard en Ruiter’ (Horse and Rider) symbolises modern man’s existential fear, which is also expressed in Picasso’s famous ‘Guernica’ painting. The horse draws full attention, it is the expression of total despair. ‘Paard en Ruiter’ is one of Calmeyn’s early works. Later his statues evolve towards the abstract.

The statue is made of wax  pieces, melted together. This operation requires working in a cool area to maintain the desired shape. The patches and their joints remain clearly visible, enhancing the unnatural, artificial aspect of this sculpture. The classical method of moulding and casting into form has not been used. This is a common way of working for small-sized works, but rather unusual for sculptures of this size.

Jan Calmeyn carved his first works directly from stone. Later he preferred clay moulding. He makes polyester casts of his designs and patinates them in silver or metal colour. Because the possibilities when using polyester are too limited, from 1975 onwards he designs in wax, and has his works cast in bronze with the lost wax technique.


CALMEYN Jan (1942)

Jan Calmeyn is a sculptor living in Sint-Niklaas. He is a late bloomer as he only started sculpting at the age of 33. In 1975 he won the ‘Prize of the Province Oost-Vlaanderen’ with ‘Ramses I’. In 1977 he got an honourable commendation with a cash prize in the Mark Macken competition. In 1981 he was a laureate at the Budapest Triennale for small sculpture.


Kunst in de Stad -  June 18th 1983