ERCOLA (Experimental Research Center of Liberal Artists) was initiated in November 1968 as a friends' initiative by artists Jean-Claude Block and Jean-Claude Buytaert, photographer Piet Verbist and author Dominique Donnet. In Antwerp, in the early seventies, ERCOLA developed into a veritable hub in the widespread network of informal multidisciplinary artists' initiatives.
In 1971, ERCOLA became a non-profit organization whose ambitions and intentions were clearly reflected in their articles of association: "The study, the pursuit and centralization of contemporary creative art by being, in particular, a productive and informative centre through the distribution of sound, colour, light, time and space."
This ambition was translated stylistically and artistically in a wide diversity of approaches: visual art, music, theatre, costume and set design, architecture, comics, film, performance and photography. All these disciplines are also included in the present exhibition. ERCOLA brought and continues to bring artists from different generations and backgrounds into contact with each other. The intake of artists is based on interpersonal contact, warmth and social engagement, which translates into a defiant and idiosyncratic attitude towards the world.
From May 1972, ERCOLA has been renting a large building on the Wolstraat 31. A place with a special spirit in which they are housed to this day, and which provides homes and workshops to a dozen artists, including founder Jean-Claude Block and newcomer Dennis Tyfus.
The exhibition shows work by all the ERCOLA members since November 1968: Jean-Claude Block, Jean-Claude Buytaert, Dominic Donnet, Piet Verbist, Luk Carlens, George ‘Toet’ Smits, Werner ‘Griffo’ Goelen, Luc Deleu, Rémonde Panis, Frans Van Roosmaelen, Filip Francis, Hilde Frunt, Luc Monheim, Bernd Urban, Monique Nagielkopf, Suzy van Poeyer-Bailleux, Ferre Grignard, Will Dellaert, Ria Pacquée, Mike Zinzen, Patricia Beysens, Eva Pletinckx, Rudi Renson, Nicole Van Goethem, Ellen Verryt, Lucas De Pauw, Martine Van Nuffel, Wannes Van De Velde, Joop Mackenbach, Nancy Bailleux, Jessica-Lynn Lens, Els Proost, Jeron Suls, Bob Verhelst, G. Taub, Friede Kuterna aka Frieda Korda, Djuna Van Der Borgt, Corry Bellemans, Stanko Prce, Slavitsa Matjesevic, Marcel Decleer, Sanja Camilovic, Viviane Coubergs, Jean-Pierre Van Ophem, Dennis Tyfus, Suzanne Van Well, Vaast Colson, Peter Fengler, Mima Schwahn, Leo A. Lopez, Meriton Maloku, Soulmates, Real Free Press, Marcel van Maele, Ann Salens, Jean-Jacques Stiefenhofer, Wout Vercammen and Keiko Yoshida. The exhibition also includes a legendary reportage from 1975 by Paul Jambers on the ERCOLA phenomenon.
ERCOLA produces a hefty book, published by Lannoo, with reproductions of works by all members. Every edition contains six original issues from the comic magazine SPRUIT from 1971. Thirty luxury editions contain, besides the six issues from SPRUIT, also one original pen drawing. The sponsor and patron of this playful, multifarious magazine was Isi Fiszman who recently donated two sculptures by Bernd Lohaus and one by Angel Vergara to the M HKA.