Born in Brussels in 1961, Stéphane Mandelbaum was a Belgian painter killed in 1986 by his accomplices after the theft of a Modigliani painting. Disfigured by acid, half-hidden in a waste land, his body will be found near Namur. The young artist, an exceptionally gifted draughtsman but also a charismatic yet disconcerting character, leaves a body of work where defined by ultimately violent scenes: portraits of Nazis and artists who died young, porn scenes, shocking graffiti. Pasolini, Bacon, Rimbaud, Pierre Goldman: violent lives that seem to have prefigured the tragic death of the painter.
Gilles Sebhan’s ambition is here to reexamine what made this tragedy possible, but also what makes Stéphane Mandelbaum an artist both unrecognized and exceptional (he has often been compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat as well as certain representatives of art brut). This book is the portrait of an artist. It is a biography and at the same time the analysis of a style. Carefully researched, it is also the encounter of a large series of interviews and encounters with the most important witnesses of Mandelbaum’s life: his family, his friends, his mistresses. But instead of proposing one final version of the facts, the author has preferred to suggest the impossibility of ever disclosing the truth of Stéphane Mandelbaum.