Jan Fabre was born in 1958 in Antwerp, Belgium. He studied window dressing at the Municipal Institute of Decorative Arts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he currently lives and works.
Between 1976 and 1980, Fabre wrote his first scripts for the theater and had his debut as a performer. His career as a stage director and stage designer began in 1980. Around the same time, Fabre traveled to New York, where he gave lectures, performed, produced drawings, in situ interventions and sculptures. During this period, his art was exhibited across Europe.
The enchantment with the ephemeral, the unseen and the cathartic takes the central position in Jan Fabre’s work. Endlessly framing the narrative, they are omnipresent, regardless of the media. Fabre seems to be deeply inspired, not only by the achievements of a certain epoch in an artistic sense, but more so by the philosophy, the anthropology, and even the spirituality that governs him in pursuing the imagination further and further. By foraying provocatively into different kinds of art forms, he aims to break down artistic and moral barriers. Fabre’s work should therefore not be considered as a mere aesthetical and formal coquetting but instead should be perceived as a concise and radical practice aimed at pointing out the complexity of contemporaneity.
Fabre is noted for his work Heaven of Delight, for which he covered the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Brussels with jewel-scarab wing cases in 2002. He has had major exhibitions at the Kröller-Müller Museum of Otterlo (Netherlands), the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna (Austria), MAXXI in Rome (Italy), the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille (France), the PinchukArtCenter in Kiev (Ukraine), Royal Museum of Fine Art (Brussels, Belgium) and National Museum Belgrade (Serbia). Eight years after the exhibition “The Angel of Metamorphosis” at the Musée du Louvre in Paris in 2008, he was the first living artist to be invited to present an important monographic exhibition at the Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg. In parallel, Jan Fabre writes plays that integrate dance and drama performed by his troupe Troubleyn, such as Tragedy of a Friendship, presented in September 2013 at the Comédie de Genève. From 2015 until 2018, he toured Europe with his project Mount Olympus. To Glorify the Cult of Tragedy, his latest 24-hour-long performance piece.