In the Antwerp house of literature is today “Hugo Claus – Behind many masks” opens, an exhibition on the life and work of writer and director Hugo Claus, who this year is ten years dead. Actress Hilde Van Mieghem, Claus personally knew well, is the curator and plowed for a year by the huge archive that Claus left behind and now is in the hands of the house of literature. She explains in the expo, especially the emphasis on the many autobiographical elements in the work of Claus, such as the war and his love, something he did during his career, rarely spoke.
“Behind many masks” refers to the mysterious aura that is always around Claus was the choice of Van Mieghem in the archive to go in search of the man behind the writer. The expo is divided into four circular areas around the major stages in the life of Claus: his early years (1929-1949), the period in which he as a writer flourished and his first wife Elly Overzier got to know (1949-1969), his relationships with Kitty Courbois and Sylvia Kristel (1969-1980) and his move to Antwerp and later to Provence with his second wife, Veerle de Wit (1980-2008). Claus comes especially to the word, through journal excerpts, handwritten pieces from his oeuvre, scenes from his films, boekencovers and digitized versions of paintings and poems.
“It is an honour that I the life and work of someone I so admire, allowed to exhibit,” says Van Mieghem. “It’s amazing how much material he has left, I don’t even have anything to read. What I noticed, is that Hugo is a man of flesh and blood was that as we all suffer from things like heartbreak.”