Raphaël August Opstaele (BE, º1934 †2018)

Mass and Individual Moving (MAIM)

Tuesday, February 20, artist Raphael August Opstaele passed away. In the years 1960-1970 he was the founder and leading figure of Mass and Individual Moving, our most important artist collective to express the mass and the individual on the move in a monumental way with the actual world serving as exposition hall. He also founded the Academy of Mecano Art and Inventus.

The imaginative monumental sculptures with titles like Gloria, Phoenix, Heroes of the Great Paradox, World Windorgan and Pioneer were shown in public spaces. With Pioneer, a gigantic printer that worked on solar energy, Opstaele traveled to the Moroccan desert. While representing Belgium on the Biennale of Venice in 1972 with the Butterfly Project, 10,000 butterflies were released on St. Mark’s Square. BioArt avant la lettre.


Originally hailing from advertising, Raphael made the leap to an art form with a utopian message and a critical-humorous impact. He was involved in the Verbeke Foundation from day one, and some of his sculptures are on permanent display here. As silent witnesses who have lost none of their strength. He also gave shape to our logo by means of the typeface Mecano, which he designed.

On Saturday 17 March at 15.00h a commemoration of Raphael will be held at the Verbeke Foundation. You are cordially invited to attend.

Gloria (1985)
An official request of the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp lies at the origin of this sculpture. As part of an exhibition on the theme of automobiles, the museum invites several internationally renowned artists to submit an artistic project. Opstaele designs Gloria, a habitable cell that moves around an imaginary axis. Gloria is declared the winner by the jury.
Phoenix (1982-1983) is viewable at the beach.
The origin of this project stems from reflection on a mechanical phenomenon; mass given motion can create new forms. Following this line of thought Opstaele creates a laminated wooden sculpture, measuring 6 by 11 by 4,5 meters and weighing two-and-a-half ton . It represents the Benu bird which was present in the first Mass and Individual Moving manifesto. Also affixed to the hammer, you can find the Latin translation of Mass and Individual Moving: Massarum atque Individuorum Motus. The sculpture is designed to strike large size medallions [330 x 330 mm] in precious metals such as silver, gold or copper. All the beaten medallions will carry the name Phoenix Works.
Heroes of the Great Paradox (1987-1988)
These creatures were made within the framework of Opstaeles ‘ Mecano-Art ‘ and their paradoxical strength is on display at the Verbeke Foundation. They are strong, dangerous and agile, yet these characteristics are ironically juxtaposed with their actions. They can be found bursting to pieces they run into walls, or falling to their demise within the lake beneath them.
World Windorgan (1985) is a touring sound monument for producing public concerts with wind energy. Seventy-two gigantic bamboo poles of 6 meters high are played by the wind. Spectators can walk through this Aeological forest and come to rest. The aim was to place a whole route of world Windorgans from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
Pioneer (1980) is a huge, movable wooden printing press, powered by solar energy, that expresses poetic slogans. In 2017 it was displayed in the exhibition Animal Man Machine.

Space Station (1995)


Anatomy of Delight (1996)