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Hugo Ké, the pseudonym of Hugo Dekempeneer (Vilvoorde, 25 november 1938)[1], is a Belgian cartoonist, graphicus, illustrator, set designer and filmmaker.

Early life[edit]

Hugo Dekempeneer was born in 1938 in Vilvoorde, Belgium. He studied at the Sint Lukas School Of Arts in Brussels and later at École nationale supérieure des arts visuels, more known as La Cambre. He learned to draw at Sint Lukas and unleashed a true Flemish cartoon epidemic. Dekempeneer was a pupil of graphic designer Luc Verstraete, who also taught arts to GAL and Ever Meulen. Like his fellow students, he published his drawings and cartoons in the national press, including Humo, De Standaard and Pourquoi Pas used Hugo Ké's services several times.[2]


HugoKé is a freelance artist, a cartoonist, an illustrator, ... He made animations, covers, posters, decors and even a musical. He illustrated ‘Het Kleine Vogeltje en het Grote Bruine Paard’ (1975, written by E. van Zandweghe). Together with writer Hugo Claus he wrote the comic ‘Belgman’ in 1967. He also made comics for newspapers such as ‘Eddy Sterk wint... de Olympische Spelen’ (1972) and ‘Reinaert de Vos’ (1973, written by Pol Claes).


De Kempeneer designed around 166 posters between 1962 and 1993.[3] He mainly designed posters for dance and theater performances that took place at the KVO (Koningklijke Vlaamse Opera), NTGent (Nederlands Toneelhuis Gent) and KNS (Koningklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg). For each of the three houses, he took care of the visual identity for a period of time.

Besides that, he designed several posters relating to sports. In 1966 he designed a poster for de Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) that also appeared in de Nieuwe Krant.

A remarkable design was for the Landbouwprijs in Fokdieren in Vilvoorde in 1971. A poster for a compition in farming and breeding animals alongside a cycling race and a fair. Or also: a typical example of Flemish folklore.

De Belgman - 1967[edit]

De Belgman is a story written by Hugo Claus and Hugo Dekempeneer in 1967[4]. The story tells us about the differences between Flanders and Wallonia, the dutch and the french speaking part of Belgium. The people are represented by the Vlammetjes, black-yellow gnomes (the Flemish people) and the Walletjes, red-yellow gnomes (the Walloon people). The first kind of dwarfs is known for his industriousness, enthusiasm and his devotional attitude. A Vlammetje can not see a wheelbarrow without his muscles itching and the need to load it with bricks to keep on dragging while cursing. By the end of the day he is satisfied and returns to his wife, waiting for him.

The Walletjes on the other hand are not highly recommendable. They speak French, are rather lazy and tired and chasing young girls in the dark. Unnecessary to say the two parties don’t get along well.

In the end, after plenty of disagreements, The Walletjes realise that their cleverness can not beat the growing prestige of the Vlammetjes. They decide to make a compromise. The reconciliation became so strong, a bastard was born: De Belgman, half Flemish, half Walloon.

De Belgman had to become a commercial succes. Both the writer as the illustrator made many compromises so the book became easy lecture for everyone, rather than becoming an exlusive, intellectual arty-farty book. The book was published by Standaard Boekhandel and costed 50 Belgium Franks. There was no french version, although the book was a succes in The Netherlands.

Made In Belgium - Mini shooting gallery for aspiring revolutionaries - 1980[edit]

In 1980 Dekempeneer represented Belgium at the 39th Venice Biennial. He made a foldout brochure-style folder with a pop-up shooting gallery. The gallery shows cartoon-style politicians of that era, such as Brezjnjev, Khadaffi, Castro, Mugabe, Gaddafi, The Queen, President Carter, Johannes Paulus II ...

1980 was a year of celebration in Belgium. In 1930, following a revolution in Brussels, the bourgeoisie came to power and cut itself off from Holland and founded the Kingdom of Belgium. Since this small country was chiefly reliant on exports, why not carry the “revolution” over its national borders? 1889 saw the founding of an arms manufactering company in Belgium, which as a country exported to 130 countries all over the world. 9% of these exports were to EEC countries, 72% to the developing countries and 11% were intended for Belgium’s own use.

Morsdood - 2000[edit]

The premiere of his movie Morsdood took place in the year 2000. He worked six years on the project. Writing the scenario, making illustrations but above all searching a producer. Eventually he found himself a mecenas: the Flemish industial Hendrik Seghers. Together they founded de Parade. Their goal was to guide artistic-creative projects based on the rich pictorial tradition in Flanders and to expand on European cultural heritage.

The idea origins from his childhood. When he visited his grandmother she would always inquire ‘what’s new?’. By that she meant ‘who’s dead?’.

The movie is about Elisa van Obbergem who gets a visit from Grim Reaper (Magere Hein in Dutch) on her two-hundredth birthday. She ones was a close friend of Ludwig van Beethoven, his music is a vivid part in the movie. The message of the movie is sour-sweet: Elisa had a ruthless battle with death; she can only win if she loses herself. The tone is grim, almost macabre, but there’s optimism in the film. There’s no spoken word, the movie is completely international although it is rooted in Flemish culture which is clear in his decors. They are a beautiful representation of the contemporary Brussels. The film went in premiere at Film Fest Ghent.[5]


  1. "Actoren Letterenhuis". Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  2. "Hugo Ké op pad". De Standaard (in Nederlands). Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  3. "Objectbeschrijvingen Letterenhuis". Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  4. "1967_claus_depost". Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  5. "Hugoké heeft tekenfilm af". De Standaard (in Nederlands). Retrieved 2019-01-07.

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