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Lenaerts, Henri

Henri Lenaerts was born on the 8th May 1923 in Molenbeek-St-Jean (Brussels). From 1945 to 1948 he studied painting in the Fine Arts Academy in Brussels, under the guidance of Anto Carte. He studied the art of sculpture at the same time with professor Delneste from the Molenbeek Academy. In 1949 he married Marie-Josée Van Broeck. From that moment he began working as a sculptor and painter. He worked as a sculpture teacher in Nivelles and in the Watermael-Boitsfort Academy. He resided in Meise where he set up his workshop. In 1962 he travelled to India, seduced by the broad perception of the Indian school of thought. In 1964 he was awarded a scholarship from the UNESCO to study Indian culture, a project that was extended until 1967 with a scholarship from the Indian Government, and which would allow him to draw out his studies in the Universities of Madrás and Benarés. At the end of 1971 he presented his thesis in the University of Benarés, on the subject of tantric philosophical thought. He was consequently named Doctor in Indian Philosophy and won the prize for the best thesis. During his stay in India, he contacted the University sculpture department. Upon his return to Belgium, he dedicated his time to organising Yoga courses. He transported his sculpture of the Yogi to Italy to have it smelted in bronze. During this period he created many other sculpture works; “El Nacimiento de Venus (I and II)”, “La Caida de Ícaro”, “Placer de Vivir”, “El Destino Humano (I and II)”, “El Aprendiz de Brujo” and most recently “El Investigador”. He also created mural paintings and tapestry sketches which have been made into tapestries by Paulette Garin.

Many of his first sculptures that were undertaken can be found in public places. The Belgium State bought various works upon the request of members of the purchasing committee Albert Tasnoy, Herman Teirlink and Charles Leplace. La “Campesina Sentada” from 1953 is in front of the Meise botanical gardens. “Ritmo Vital” is located in the Ostende town council. In 1957 the Fine Arts Museum purchased “Silueta Campestre”. For years this sculpture was displayed in the entrance hall, then it was transferred to the new building where it is displayed next to works by Permeke. In 1971 he decided embark upon a radically different life, and settled down in the village of Irurre, in Guesalaz valley, Navarre. There he lived a simple life, in touch with nature, until his death in December 2006. Lenaerts died leaving no descendants, one of the reasons he wished for his works to stay in the municipal that he had made his home. He left behind an outstanding artistic legacy, which he intended to display in the place he lived and worked for 35 years. Some of the works that remained in Navarre are exhibited in Estella and on the UPNA campus, as well as is Irurre itself. In 2004 his works were displayed in the Museo Gustavo de Maeztu in Estella.

JMMS

Sources:

STEGMEIER, I., «Carlos Irijalba, Henri Lenaerts y Mariano Royo se suman a la colección de la UPNA», Diario de Navarra, 23 de Febrero 2006. «Muere Henri Lenaerts, escultor belga afincado en Irurre», Diario de Navarra, 7 de Diciembre 2006. R.A., «La tragedia de esta época es que hemos perdido el contacto con la naturaleza», Diario de Navarra, 8 de Diciembre 2006 R.A., «Fondos para arrancar la casa-museo Lenaerts», Diario de Navarra, 27 de Enero 2009.