The perfect start to the artistic season, the Brussels Gallery Weekend is a great chance to visit more than fifty galleries and centres of art spread all around the city. We have looked through the whole extensive programme and made some choices to suit three kinds of art-lovers – interchangeable and not mutually exclusive, of course.
The holidays are over. That’s good news for art-lovers, at least, who have been champing at the bit in front of the locked doors of their favourite galleries. The new season opens, as has become tradition, with a big weekend in which forty galleries are participating, presenting their well-known, lesser-known, and emerging artists. And that’s not including the OFF programme, which features a further fifteen venues, like for example the Vanderborght building, where the group show “Fried Patterns” is giving young artists who don’t yet have gallery representation a chance to show their work. To help you choose from the extensive programme, we have mapped out a route for three kinds of art lovers.
There are those of us who like to start with the big names, whom they find reassuring and sometimes enlightening. For them, the group show Painting in Belgium at La Patinoire Royale offers a great starting point. More than 200 paintings and more than 30 artists retrace the prolific adventures of abstract painters in Belgium during the post-war period. Many big names and some others who have been forgotten make up this portrait of a generation in search of innovation.
Invited by the Antwerp gallerist Emmy Tob and the Knokke-based collector Roger Nellens, Keith Haring spent a lot of time in Belgium, far from the chaos of New York. The exhibition “Keith Haring and His Belgian Entourage” at Galerie de la Béraudière revisits his creations and those of the Belgian pop artists who went before him.
In his new series of works Delocazione, Claudio Parmiggiani is interested in the traces that objects leave in ash and dust. Playing with shadows, light, and different materials, the artist explores loss and death in unsettling vanitases at Meessen De Clercq.
Known for his paintings, sculptures, and installations, such as his “meat pieces”, the US artist Paul Thek has also done a lot of drawing. His first in Belgium, the exhibition “I Am, Am I?” at Jan Mot focuses on his prints and drawings on newspaper, in which he revisits his recurring themes, such as horns and the tower of Babel.
A gifted and compulsive draughtsman, Pablo Picasso was also an artist who was perpetually in search of new forms and new ways of looking at things. “Unbounded Virtuoso” at Vedovi Gallery, which presents ten drawings completed between 1909 and 1972, illustrates that perfectly.
A breath of air
Other art-lovers hope to find, in the starkness and visual tranquillity of some artists, a moment’s pause, but always with a connection to reality. The Guinean artist Nù Barreto’s work, exhibited by Galerie Nathalie Obadia, might be just their cup of tea. Barreto has been drawing since he was a child. His drawings, which have been enriched by his painting, photography, and videos, are the mirror that he holds up to the reality of contemporary Africa. In it, he sees red and black silhouettes, suspended within reality. Alter egos which are bound to be imperfect because they are human.Ataru Sato, for his part, draws to express his inner self, something forbidden, a poison that eats away at him, and his sexual anxieties. His imaginary world, on display at Office Baroque, overflows with obsessive and bizarre images drawn in minute detail with a ballpoint pen. In his drawings and paintings alike, he searches tirelessly for what he knows about the world and about himself.
Matthew Lutz-Kinoy’s drawings and paintings appear to be caught in a fluid and organic movement, always seeming to relate back to the body, the measure of all things. The US artist is nomadic and refuses to stick to a single medium or technique, equally at home with painting, ceramics, and performance in a spirit of collaboration, as you are able to witness at Mendes Wood DM.
Painter, sculptor, and ceramicist Miquel Barceló, whose work is on show at Almine Rech, was deeply affected by a journey to West Africa and fascinated by the ceramics made by the Dogon women. Since then, he has not stopped exploring and experimenting with the transformation of elements, clay, water, pigments, and sediments, combining tradition and modernity.
For her Materials series, the Brussels-based artist Hana Miletic drew her inspiration from photographs she took in the street, transposing them onto hand-woven tapestries. What interests her are the places where materials are repaired and transformed by people. In turn, with her threads of wool, she transforms the reality and rendering of photographs. The new gallery space La Maison de Rendez-Vous is showing her “Retour au travail”.
Expect the unexpected
A third category of art-lovers is drawn to the unexpected, the point at which styles and materials merge together and overlap. The US artist Oscar Tuazon’s work inhabits such a space between land art, architecture, and minimalism. In his sculptural installations, on show at Dépendance, he transforms mass-produced and natural materials to explore the metamorphoses of the public sphere and of our environment.
Winner of the 2013 Marcel Duchamp Prize, the Franco-Moroccan conceptual romantic artist Latifa Echakhch is very sensitive to the political vibrations and challenges of today’s world. A multifaceted artist, her work includes photography, video, sculpture, and installations with found objects, as you can see at Dvir Gallery. Than Hussein Clark, an actor and visual artist from the US, likes to peel back the veneer of society. His exhibition at Damien & the Love Guru presents nine previously unseen paintings of the British actor Selma Vaz Dias. It is followed by a performance of the play that he wrote based on the unpublished autobiography of the actor, who played Genet and brought the writer Jean Rhys back into the light.The Swiss artist Claudia Comte’s “The Cavern of Lost Dreams (Nine Characters)” transforms Gladstone Gallery into an imaginary domain that combines manufactured and natural objects, biomorphic sculptures, and murals to question the world that we have made for ourselves and the one that we have destroyed.
And “All the Things I’ve Lost” at B.R.C., nomadic gallery Ballon Rouge Collective’s Brussels hub, is showing work by Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot. Two artists merge into one, presenting their own mischievous form of feminism, liberated from inhibitions. At the heart of their work are ceramic pieces which tread the line between minimalism and ornamentation, the baroque and the banal, exploring the tensions between competition and solidarity.
BRUSSELS GALLERY WEEKEND 5 > 8/9, various locations