The first week of 2017 I finally made it to London! It is really not that far from Brussels, but somehow we always had other priorities and kept postponing it. We stayed in Shoreditch for 5 days and that turned out to be a very good choice. Good food, nice people, lots of shopping possibilities and not too far from the best museums and art galleries. Shoreditch is known as ‘hipster town’ but that didn’t bother me too much. Or maybe there is one thing that bothered me a little bit: the huge amount of boutiques and hair dressers just for men! Could there be a feminist deep inside of me?
Compared to Brussels, London has a few advantages: free entrance in most of the museums (!), the River Thames as part of the city (not like the hidden Zenne in Brussels), the many new buildings emerging everywhere and the fact that most of the restaurants have a gluten free menu. Here are a few of my personal highlights when it comes to art, food, shopping and the city culture. I hope it might inspire you.
Just a quick blog post to wish you all a Merry Christmas! For the first time in years I am really looking forward to celebrate Christmas. I didn’t buy a Christmas tree or visited a Christmas market because that doesn’t really appeal to me. Although I did appreciate the bottle of Glühwein that I got, thanks for that! This year I realized more than ever that our life is hanging by a thread. I saw people that are close to me losing a loved one. They never expected it might happen so soon. So what I am trying to tell you is this: spend as much time with your family and friends as you can! Have a lovely meal and enjoy being surrounded by everyone you love.
‘Twisted Strings’ by Walter Leblanc, 1960
This exhibition in the Museum of Ixelles mainly focuses on the art work of two Belgian artists: Jef Verheyen & Walter Leblanc. To understand what their work is about, we need to know something about the Zero art movement that they were involved in.
During this art movement (1958 – 1968) a group of European artists wanted to reinvent painting from scratch. The name Zero does not refer to a total absence of meaning. It was more like a return to nature or a return to the beginning, inspired by Minimal art. The artists played with the concept of light and shadow. The colors were very basic and monochrome. Influenced by Arte Povera and Kinetic Art, the artists used everyday materials to create a sense of movement.
‘Untitled (Red)’ by Mark Rothko, 1968 © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
If you’re a fan of abstract art, you will love this exhibition at the ING Art Center in Brussels! Do I love abstract art myself? I’m not sure. I do know that I absolutely adore the work of Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb that I saw in different European museums so far. I also can appreciate a typical Jackson Pollock painting, but I don’t really feel anything like I do when facing a work of Rothko or Gottlieb. But what about the scribbles made by Cy Twombly? I really don’t know what to think of it, even though I think I am quite openminded. The exhibition made me appreciate abstract art a lot more. I didn’t like everything, but the few pieces that I absolutely adored made it worth the visit. And I learned a lot about Peggy Guggenheim who is one of the most influential women in the history of art.
There was a ‘no pictures’ sign at the entrance, so I respected that. All of the pictures in this article come directly from the Guggenheim Museum website.
Réorganisation, by Chéri Samba, 2002
Congo Art Works
Hello! We (my better half and I) are thinking about traveling to Kinshasa next year for a first acquaintance with the local Congolese culture. Our ultimate destination is Goma (North Kivu), but because of the political conflicts and the violence it’s better to wait a few more years. In the mean time, I try to expand my knowledge about the history of this country, including the colonial period. With this in mind, you can understand why I wouldn’t miss an exhibition about Congolese art in Brussels 😉 .
Congo Art Works is curated by the Congolese artist Sammy Baloji and the Flemish anthropologist Bambi Ceuppens. It’s a collaboration between Bozar, who is hosting the expo, and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. In the first picture we see a painting made by Chéri Samba that was commissioned by the Royal Museum for Central Africa. The museum is currently closed for the public because they are renovating, and that’s a great time to rethink the way Congo should be presented to the visitors. So far, there was a rather paternalistic vision behind the museum collection. As a visitor, it gave you the idea that Congo was all about nature and that culture was brought there by Western countries. Now, we are more and more aware that Congo had and still has its own unique culture. Especially the younger generation of Belgian and Congolese citizens are making this change happen, although it’s a long process. In 2013, the museum in Tervuren bought a collection of 2000 paintings, photographs and objects from the Polish professor Bogumil Jewiewicki. The curators show us a selection of this ‘new’ collection in Bozar. At first, when you see these paintings, you see all the bright colors, as if you are about to see something joyful. But if you pay attention you realize quite fast that that isn’t the case.
Hello! Once again, there is a lot of art to see in Brussels this time of the year. My ‘things to visit’-list is growing almost every day. Besides the main exhibitions at Bozar, Wiels and other big museums, I also want to pay attention to artwork from less known artists. That’s why it seemed worth the effort to check out the work of Djamel Merbah at Espace Magh.
Djamel Merbah was born in Algeria in 1949 and came to Belgium in the 70’s. He graduated at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Art in Brussels and Liège and did several exhibitions in Algeria and Europe. So let’s see what his work is about! (Please note that the paintings where only numbered, so I can’t give you any titles.)
I share – you share, 2014, by Yana Dimitrova
The Accessible Art Fair is already celebrating its 10th anniversary, but the concept is still the same. It’s an art fair where you can buy high quality art for a reasonable price. The artists are not yet known by the larger public, they are still emerging. That’s what makes the art work accessible for everyone who cares about art, even when on a small budget. Actually, that’s what I try to achieve with this blog: to make art accessible for everyone, to convince people to walk into a gallery without hesitating and to talk about art in an understandable way. It’s the second time I visited the Accessible Art Fair and I always feel inspired afterwards. The atmosphere is really positive and there are no snobby people you often see in other art fairs. I love the fact that you can speak to all the artists. When I write a blog post about an exhibition, I feel a bigger connection when I actually talked to the artist. It adds some kind of emotional value. I guess it’s the same thing when buying an art work, knowing the artist a little bit creates a real connection.
So here are my favorite art works of this year’s edition.
L’envol, 2016, by Fabrice Samyn
Fabrice Samyn is a Brussels artist who lives and works in the capital. I think I saw one of his art works at Art Brussels this year, but I am not sure. It was sort of by accident that I discovered his exhibition at Meessen De Clercq during the Brussels Gallery Weekend. I was actually looking for another gallery to visit that day. As you might have noticed by now, I only write about artists or exhibitions that I liked. I very much appreciated the work of Fabrice Samyn, so I thought I should write about him as well.
White Snow, Thumper 1, by Paul McCarthy, 2014-2016
The American artist Paul McCarthy is currently exposing in Brussels! The first time I read something about him was when I did some research for my thesis on public art. Do you know his statue called ‘Santa Claus‘? It’s a huge gnome holding something in his hand that looks like a buttplug. The statue was moved around several times in Rotterdam because a lot of citizens didn’t want it in their neighborhood. They were too shocked by the image. Paul McCarthy also did performances that were often perceived as shocking. For example, one time he showed his buttocks all covered in chocolate sauce! Yummie.
The Great Deal of Pain(t), by El Nino76
Belgian Crew is the name of a street art exhibition that is hold in the Egmont Palace in Brussels. Every summer, the Palace opens its doors to the public when showing the work of different artists. I never noticed this Palace before even though I walk past it every day to go to work. It’s hidden behind the small park of Petit Sablon, the one with all the statues. It’s only because I saw so many pictures on social media of these marble stairs with the yellow paint spilled on it that I found out about the exhibition. (the blue-orange-purple paintings on the marble background are made by the artist Reset’81)