Is history an uncalculated parade of ongoing dramatic facts, happy events, wars, love stories, decay…… Or can we in this procession of information on information discover blueprints. Blueprints which arrange all those passed events into concepts. Perhaps even the same concepts over and over again. If that is the case, history might be better understood as a dance. A dance in which always different participants sign up for, in which different costumes are designed , but which nevertheless means repetition of basic patterns. The sculptor Kobe believes in this last conception. His insights about this originates from his childhood. As an artist he is moved to represent this vision. In this case literally. Talking about Kobe is talking about this assignment: looking for the meaning of our existence.
In this perspective it is no longer important that Kobe’s actual name is Jacques Saelens. That he was born in 1950 in Kortrijk surrounded by many children in a environment in which people had to work for their living. That his father was a avid aesthete with lots of connections in the world of art, but could not find the artist soul in his son. What is of importance is that Kobe turned into Kobe, at his own strength. Still he managed to get into the School of Arts, including the one in Brussels. His vision matured by making long, distant journeys to ancient cultures of America, Africa en Asia. There was an unrelenting will to turn the congenital force of creating through research and practice into a sublime craftsmanship. Kobe is anything but a pseudonym. It is a sobriquet, which stands for wanting to live in a authentic way which is meant for you.
This choice got his impact in a stunning oeuvre, which happily lets it ‘read’ itself than any culture- historical treatise ever. Indeed, a statue of Kobe always has some traits to the past, of other cultures, or of both. There is always this primal force present, reaching endlessly through space and time. A force at work up over our heads.
Because of his impressive convergent ability it is difficult to put Kobe in a tradition of art history. All of his sculptures possess that mystical archaic, but in the mean time also grant honour to the recent past: you recognise the input of the rational and pure modernisms in the distance, since the figures are abstracted to the bone into lines. This work could also easily belong to present-day post-modern realists. People who do not care much for history and prefer to live in the moment.
Whichever way you see it, up-close or from a distance, Kobe’s sculptures will always be mainly living figures. A little introvert, but ever so sensitive and of an unexplainable elegance.
Women and horses are the main characters of Kobe’s universe. Created from bronze or marble. In the last case the statues are obviously flat, wide and expressive. Moreover smooth in this way that it reflects more light than it absorbs. It is as if they are hesitating: do we gently want to embrace mankind, or happily transcend it?
Kobe is represented worldwide exclusively by Galerie Mark Peet Visser ‘s-Hertogenbosch. In September 2010 a book was published about the life and work of Kobe, titled Becoming Kobe.