Christian Dotremont

(born December 12, 1922, Tervuren, Belgium - died August 20, 1979 , Buizingen) Belgian poet and energetic cultural figure who is probably best known as one of the founders of the experimental art group, COBRA.

Christian Dotremont‘s passion for words, images and art was forged early on, being born into a family deeply engaged with the editing and publishing of art journals. His inquisitiveness and interest in creating works of art through words, eventually becomes the defining style of his entire career.

As a young poet in the early 1940’s, Dotremont becomes involved with the Surrealist movement, with the aim “to reveal the many facets of art”. With the surrealists, he discovers an artistic form, which does not allow itself to be controlled by common divisions between the arts, but rather encourages the freedom to experiment with words, images and concepts, inquisitively and vividly examining art as a concept.

Writing in images

In the work of Dotremont, words always play the most central part. Dotremont develops a style of writing or system of symbols called “logogrammes”, defined as something between images and words. The logogrammes appear as beautiful and ornate patterns, leading our thoughts to calligraphy or Arabic scripture. Dotremont painted these “pictures of words, and words of pictures” throughout his entire life. Often, he would accompany them with a short note beneath the image, which translated the logogramme into a readable text. Such notes were often brief, poetic and with a humoristic point.

Source: Galerie Birch

christian dotremont asemic writing

Logogrammes created for Børge Birch.


“Poetry must be seen and not only read”, 1972 , ink wash on paper