Beyond Borders

Timefold, 2015, by Petroc Sesti

The meaning of ‘borders’

In this exhibition 37 European and Arabic artists are presenting their own view on the concept of ‘borders‘. They all raise questions about the meaning and consequences of borders. Usually the inhabitants of a country have no influence at all on the decisions made by politicians about borders and migration. But it’s these people who suffer the most from the consequences of the decisions. We don’t have to look very far to find examples: people dying on the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe, Mexican children being kept in prison on the border with the USA or the many conflicts in Gaza.

The artists are showing us different types of borders. There are natural borders created by mountains, rivers or the desert. A lot of the current borders of countries worldwide are originated by simply following these natural borders. But there are also a lot of artificial borders, splitting regions into different countries. This redrawing of border lines by politicians is always combined with conflicts and war.

The curators wanted to create a dialogue between the different artists, but I didn’t always see the connection between them. Sometimes the link between the artwork and the theme seems a bit far-fetched. I am very glad to have discovered new artists and there were a few strong pieces of art that I will remember. Personally I find that the work of famous artists like Anish Kapoor and Jan Fabre is unnecessary in this exhibition. The other art is strong enough to stand on its own. Keep reading to see my favorite artworks.

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Get up, stand up!


Get up, stand up!‘ is the name of the newest exhibition of The Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (MIMA) in Brussels. Just like the previous exhibition called Wonderland, civil disobedience is the main thread. This theme happens to be a personal favorite of mine. I think it’s safe to say that most of us rebelled a lot during puberty (I sure did, ask my mom). As we grew older we partly lost this temper and that’s too bad. Nowadays I feel like we lack the courage or the effort to publicly disagree with injustice in society. Of course the union and other organisations still have manifestations but it seems that they don’t have much impact anymore.

I think we are also getting lazier. Is it enough to change our profile picture on Facebook to show that we disagree with something? Will that cause any change at all? Or is it still important to let our voices be heard in the streets?

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The Light of Spirit

Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale / Valérie Bach Brussels

Olga de Amaral

Although Olga de Amaral is a world-famous artist, she is not yet known to the general public in Europe. Aged 86, this Colombian artist has been making art for more than 60 years. People call her a ‘textile artist‘ or a ‘fiber artist‘ but she’s more than that. She started off by making traditional tapestries.  In the 60’s she gained fame by exposing her fiber pieces in a group show at the MOMA in New York. Before then, the rooms of the MOMA were only intended to show paintings or sculptures. At that time textile art wasn’t appreciated as it is today. De Amaral played an important role in showing people that textiles can be a form of art rather than just a craft.

La Patinoire Royale – Galerie Valérie Bach is currently hosting the first Belgian retrospective of Olga de Amaral, displaying no less than 40 artworks as well as a video called ‘The House of My Imagination’.

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Melancholia @ Villa Empain

Senza Titolo, 2013-2015 by Claudio Parmiggiani (left), Orion, 2016 by KRJST studio (right)


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.

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Yves Klein @ Bozar Brussels

The Void

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?

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Decor @ Villa Empain

Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain

Villa Empain

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 Fever this month.

If you haven’t seen it yet I hope this blog post can convince you to pay a visit before it closes.

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London Citytrip


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.

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Dialogue with light


‘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.

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Full abstraction – Masterpieces of the Guggenheim Collections


‘Untitled (Red)’ by Mark Rothko, 1968 © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Abstract art

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.

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Congo Art Works


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.

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