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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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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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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