It was his love for the Ardennes that prompted Jacques Goijen to promote the movement of essentially post-impressionist painters which grew up in the province of Liège from 1880 onwards and which was, before World War II, given the name Liège school of landscape painting by the critic, Jules Bosmant.
This is not an academy with a structured programme, but rather a sensibility shared by a number of subgroups (painters from Liège, Verviers, Spa, Huy, the Ardennes or Campine) and which we find in Richard Heintz, the master of Sy, and in Albert Raty, from Vresse-sur-Semois.
Jacques Goijen has built up a collection of paintings of that movement and has become a professional art dealer. He has never tried to hide the fact that it constitutes his bread and butter. He has put such passion into his work that he can claim credit for spreading the renown of "our" painters of the years 1880-1950 not only in Wallonia but also in Flanders, in France, in the USA, in Quebec and in the Far East. He has become the recognised expert of that "school". He established his business in 1980, on the day his son was born, and it was in Spa, in autumn 1986, that he held the first exhibition of his collection. Two years later, Jacques Goijen organised an exhibition in the Casino of Spa and at the same time presented the Liège School of landscape painting in New York, under the patronage of the Générale de Banque.
He has a busy schedule of exhibitions/sales. He regularly visits Spa, for prestigious events, in particular at the Pouhon Pierre-le-Grand building.
The great merit of Jacques Goijen is undoubtedly to have brought back to the limelight outstanding artists whose pictures, now restored and reframed, would otherwise have remained in the dusty attics to which they had been consigned decades ago by the whims of fashion. Many of these paintings were completely unknown because they belonged to families and had never been on public show.
"I am always amazed by the host of talents we have discovered on our doorstep; real treasures are coming to light today", says Jacques Goijen. With the many pictures he has collected over the years he is able to organise thematic exhibitions which go to confirm the richness and diversity of the Liège school of landscape painting.
"Whether I am sitting by the fireside, on the isle of Anticosti in Quebec or in my shepherd's hut in the Cévennes, I am always moved by the Ardennes of yesteryear", confesses Jacques Goijen, prompting the comment that he is a nostalgic romantic from the nineteenth century living in the twenty-first century.
Collecting, writing and hunting
In 1989 Jacques Goijen published his first novel, "Chasses d'Ardennes". Two other novels followed, "Communions Ardennaises" and "Le Maître de Céans", in which art and hunting play an important role. In these three activities - paintings, novels and hunting - born of his passion for the Ardennes, Jacques Goijen sees a sort of spiritual heritage of Adrien de Prémorel.