Jef Cornelis (1941-2018) began his career as a director for the Arts Division of BRT Television in Flanders - which would later become VRT broadcasting - in 1963. Between 1964 and 1998, he directed more than two hundreds television programs, including debates, live broadcasts, films on modern art, architecture, topics in cultural affairs and the Flemish landscape.

Cornelis' constant engagement with visual art resulted in documentary about major international events - such as Venice Biennial or Documenta in Kassel - portraits of artists like, among others, Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Buren, Richard Hamilton, Panamarenko, Jan Vercruysse. In 1969 he was one of the founders of A379089, an alternative art centre in Antwerp that presented itself as an “anti-museum” or “anti-gallery”: together with A379089's coordinator Kasper König, Cornelis organized exhibitions with Carl André, Marcel Broodthaers, Jörg Immendorf and La Monte Young. In 1995 Cornelis to curated a group exhibition with works by artists such as Rita McBride, James Ensor, Craigie Horsfield, On Kawara, René Magritte, Panamarenko, Cindy Sherman (and other artists) in the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. The title ‘Call It Sleep’ referred to the moment between sleep and awakening and it was an exploration of the complex correlation between cinema and the visual arts.

Along with the countless screenings of his films in national and international film festivals, art cinemas and museums, in recent years his films have been shown in Liverpool (2014), Lisbon (2016 - 2017), Montréal (2016) and Porto (2015). In 2016 Argos paid homage to his oeuvre with an exhibition in Argos and a retrospective screening series in Cinematek.

We are all going to miss his critical and sharp point of view, and his oeuvre is and will always be a milestone in the Belgian and international audiovisual field.

The Argos team

Jef Cornelis during the making of 'Waarover men niet spreekt' (1968). © VRT