Junkyard or ‘Planet of the apes’? No: Verbeke’s weird art collection

Tough one. Where to go to, this weekend? Jan Hoet is opening Coup de Ville, his new ‘version’ of Chambres d’amis, in Sint-Niklaas, and some of the most important galleries in Brussels are joining forces for a new edition of Brussels Art Days. If you opt for Coup de Ville on Sunday, do try to combine it with a visit to that wonderfully strange Verbeke Foundation in Kemzeke. I finally managed to go there last weekend, for a much belated visit, and I must say: it ranks amongst the weirdest collections I’ve ever seen. Walking through the huge depots (20.000 square metres) and the green fields (12 hectares) I often felt as if someone had dropped me in an enormous junkyard or on the set of Planet of the apes. Let’s just say that’s it not the tidiest of galleries you’ll ever see. But it all makes sense, as Flemish entrepreneur turned collector Geert Verbeke (57) has a soft spot for eco and bio art. You’ll see Koen Vanmechelens chicken project and Martin Uit den Bogaard’s cadavers. You’ll find a huge container painted by Keith Haring on the parking lot, Jan Fabres tombstones and Peter de Cupere’s Garbage city inside the main building. Even the bees flying around outside belong to some sort of art meets science project. Every year the collection attracts some 20.000 visitors. Green summer, the Verbeke Foundation’s summer exhibition, runs till October 31.

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