Melancholia is a concept that is hard to explain. Do you know the feeling of being in a sad mood when you don’t even have a reason to be sad? Or do you ever catch yourself daydreaming about things you no longer have? That kind of nostalgia is what I call melancholia. This state of moodiness is often represented in the art world by a character that is staring in the distance, with the eyes pointed to the ground. Although it might seem that the character is sad and lonely, melancholia is not necessarily a bad thing. An artist or writer who finds himself in a state of melancholia can create beautiful things.
Villa Empain displays 70 works of art by Belgian and international artists. Some of the artists are no longer alive, others have created an installation on demand for this exhibition. The curator, Louma Salamé, created a dialogue between modern artists like Giorgio De Chirico and contemporary artists like Claudio Parmiggiani. There are several themes coming back in this exhibition like loneliness, the absence of things and the passing of time, to name a few.
After Tate Liverpool, Bozar is currently hosting the exhibition about French artist Yves Klein in Brussels. You have probably heard about Yves Klein as the artist who is obsessed by the color blue. But, as you will read further on, that is only part of the story. When entering the exhibition room the first thing you see is a large black and white photograph of the artist jumping out of his window on the street side. It is called ‘Leap into the Void‘. The window is only on the second floor so it seems like he will crash to the ground immediately. The picture is not about gravity or the question wether he really jumped or not. It is far more interesting to look at the reason for this leap into the void. Why is he jumping? And what is he jumping into?
Away from the center of Brussels you can find this magnificent building, located on the grand avenue Franklin Roosevelt in Ixelles. Villa Empain was designed by the architect Michel Polak and was built in 1930. Even though it always looks sumptuous, these last months it looks even more stunning. The Boghossian Foundation currently presents an exhibition about the decorative in modern and contemporary art. For this occasion the French artist Daniel Buren decorated the windows with his familiar patterns in the primary colors green, red, yellow and blue. It creates a playground of colors, not only on the outside but also inside the building, as you will see further on.
The exhibition, called Decor, opened up for the public in September 2016. Due to the unexpected success they announced the extension until 2 April 2017. It will also be open during Museum Night Feverthis month.
If you haven’t seen it yet I hope this blog post can convince you to pay a visit before it closes.
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.
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 artmovement 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.