Johan Creten

Born in 1963 in Belgium, Johan Creten is a Flemish sculptor based in Paris and former fellow at the French Academy in Rome (1996). He works all around the world from The Hague to New York, from Miami to Mexico City. He has notably exhibited in the Renaissance rooms of the Louvre in dialogue with Bernard Palissy and at the Eugène Delacroix Museum in Paris, the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, the Istanbul Biennale, the MAMCO in Geneva and the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp. Johan Creten’s work is represented by the Perrotin Gallery in Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai; by the Almine Rech Gallery in Brussels and the Transit Gallery in Mechelen. Image © Clair Dorn, 2018


I Peccati | Johan Creten

The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici is happy to present the exhibition “I Peccati” by Johan Creten, curated by Noëlle Tissier, from October 15, 2020 to January 31, 2021.
The exhibition is organized by the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici with the support of the Almine Rech and Perrotin galleries.

Forerunner, unclassifiable and against the current, Johan Creten (born in 1963) is an artist that has distinguished himself as a strong, enigmatic and intriguing figure in the artistic landscape of recent decades, occupying a singular place on the international scene of contemporary creation.

Johan Creten made his mark in the 1980s with his innovative use of ceramics. Today he is considered a leading figure in his renewal in the field of contemporary art.
Another side of his work, he uses bronze with virtuosity for the realization of monumental sculptures, including a major example: “De Vleermuis – The Bat, that will be presented in the gardens of the Villa Medici.

The exhibition “I Peccati” brings together, for the first time and with such breadth in Italy, a collection of fifty-five works by the artist, in bronze, ceramic and resin. They will be reunited and juxtaposed to some historical works by Lucas Van Leyden (1494-1533), Hans Baldung (1484-1545), Jacques Callot (1592-1635), Barthel Beham (1502-1540) and Paul van Vianen ( 1570–1614), milestones underlying Johan Creten’s thinking.

Johan Creten mentions “Slow art” and the need for a return to introspection. A movement, ranging from miniature to monumental figures, which allows you to take time and immerse yourself in an exploration of the world with its individual and societal torments, for a journey filled with surprises and emotions. The sculptures of Johan Creten made especially for the exhibition between 2019 and 2020 added to the pieces that punctuate his journey from the 80s to the present day, are associated here with 16th and 17th century prints, tapestries and bas-reliefs from the artist’s personal collection. These historical works summoned by the artist are a real reference in his creative process. They reveal his concerns, be they artistic, historical, political or philosophical. The intersection of these works in the exhibition upsets our perception through multiple reading points of view which, from the past, question the future of our humanity.

« With Johan Creten, the sins are not seven in number. Seven, this implacable number, the same as the Bible’s sacraments and Rome’s hills. Here, the sins are infinite and unlimited, inexhaustible. They are not numerable, but just designatable. Sins are not all capital, they can be imperial, imperious, peripherical, insidious, insignificant, invisible. They are always below calculation and language. The seven capital sins are little when compared with silliness, barbary, boredom, mutilation, regret, melancholy and terror, in short, with life. Thus, Johan Creten’s sculptures have nothing to do with moral or sanction, guillotine or censorship. They speak of sins, of life that merges desire and pain, hope and misery, luxury and anger, love and death, Eros and Thanatos. They speak of amphibian life, between the Styx and Paradise. They speak of instinctive life, when hearts beat, when sneaks coil, when wings deploy, when vulvas gape, when the curtain moves and the naked truth emerges from it, at last, that hypnotic Medusa.
May sin not be, after all, the tired form of purity? Does it not point to our condition of extremely fallible men? Is sin not, to quote Victor Hugo, a beautiful “gravitation”? »
– Colin Lemoine, art historian


The exhibition will be accompagnied by a new publication with texts by Colin Lemoine and Nicolas Bourriaud, and photographies by Gerrit Schreurs.


Download the press release

Johan Creten’s work speaks to the inner torments that are in each of us, as individuals but also as a society, dealing with subjects such as nature, femininity, power, politics and spirituality. Gay Gassmann, T Magazine - The New York Times

Practical Information:

Double ticket for the exhibition and the guided tour of the Villa Medici and its gardens: € 12 full rate / € 6 concessions
Exhibition ticket only: € 6, free for visitors under 18.

French Academy in Rome - Villa Medici
viale Trinità dei Monti, 1 - 00187 Roma
T +39 06 6761
Metro Spagna or minibus 119