Johan Heylen (1967)
obtained a master in pharmaceutical sciences (KUL, 1985-1990), subsequently a postgraduate in economics (VLEKHO, 1990-1991) and an MBA (ULB, Solvay Business School, 1996-1997). Since 1992 he has been working as biotech/pharma executive and facilitated global projects in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the USA.
Johan Heylen is passionate about philosophy, poetry and modern and contemporary sculpture and painting. His oeuvre is characterized by mysteriousness and an undefinable sorrow. This causes feelings of melancholy, but also triggers a form of recognition amongst those who are amazed at the absurdity of existence. The artist is inspired by the work of mystics, existentialists and metaphysicians. In addition, poetry is also an important source of inspiration. The incomprehensibility of "Being" and the position of humanity in this mystery is a recurring theme. Creatures walk around aimlessly, with no hope of salvation or forgiveness, ignorant of their guilt, and not understanding their punishment. There is a holy horror, which stems from a radical alienation. Despite the substantial adversity portrayed, Johan's work contains a vulnerability and tenderness. Everything is ambiguous, every painting is multi-layered. The works succeed in putting their finger on the wordless wound and shifting the attention from the banal material to the mystical unspeakable. Any attempt to put these works into words folly, since the unspeakable cannot be lucidated.
A first expo “The backworldsmen” took place in the museum “De Hofstadt” in Diest, Belgium (October 2022-January 2023). In 2023 the financial institution BNP Paribas Fortis facilitates the expo “Doubt” in Leuven, Belgium (October 2023). The Gallery Duende shows his work in Mechelen, Belgium (October-December 2023). The cultural center in Geel, Belgium will present his work in 2024 (May-June 2024). A major solo expo will take place in the Unesco setting of the beguinage in Leuven, Belgium (Faculty Club, December 2024-September 2025), facilitated by the University of Leuven (KUL) in honor of the 600th anniversary of the KUL.
He enjoys critical acclaim from the Private Art Support Foundation (under the auspices of the King Baudouin Foundation) (2022), the newspaper “Het Laatste Nieuws” (2022), the financial newspaper “De Tijd” (2023) and the art magazine “The ArtCouch” (2023).