Leo Dohmen (19291999) was along with Raoul Ubac and Marcel Lefrancq one of the rare practitioners of Surrealist photography in Belgium. In the post-war artistic community in Antwerp, he was a legendary figure whose stormy and flamboyant lifestyle earned him the nickname of “The Pirate” amongst his friends. Dohmen led a number of lives as an engineer and chemist with Agfa Gevaert and Esso, a bartender in an illegal nightclub, an art dealer and gallery owner and, most of all, a photographer. In his photos, collages and assemblies, he always tried to shock, something he achieved by incorporating disparate elements to brilliant effect. He drew inspiration from his friends Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. In 1959, he acted in the controversial film Limitation du Cinéma, directed by his longtime partner-in-crime Marcel Mariën. Also with Mariën, he created the photomontage for the celebrated pamphlet Grande Baisse (1962), which poked fun at René Magritte’s success. Ten years after his death, this volume offers a complete overview of his work, as well as a number of documents providing the reader with a glimpse of Dohmen’s troubled life.
Catalogue accompanying the exhibition of the same name at the Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi (19 September 2009 – 17 January 2010).