Archive for Bruxelles

‘Art world’s secret weapon’ Clarissa Dalrymple curates exhibition at Xavier Hufkens (Brussels)

Posted in art, painting, video with tags on January 31, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

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Group shows. They’re often an easy way for a gallery to fill a gap in the exhibition calendar. Just take some works from the vault, et voilà! Not so at Xavier Hufkens (Brussels) where they decided to do things differently: they invited Clarissa Dalrymple to curate an exhibition. Clarissa who? She’s the British New Yorker once described by The New York Times as the art world’s secret weapon, known for an almost psychic ability to pinpoint who and what in art will matter next. Still need a reason to check out whom she has chosen?
Materialism is the link between her 7 artists. ‘I like the idea of an artist’s struggle with material. With each of these works, you can see the hand of the artist, that these pieces have been fabricated, each one is a laborious process.’ Dalrymple combines upcoming artists with established ones such as American painter Alfred Leslie (85; now using a tablet computer and Photoshop) and Young British Artist Sarah Lucas. You’ll find an interview with Dalrymple about the exhibition here, and the NYT-profile everybody quotes from here. The other artists in the exhibition (through February 9) are Tommy Hartung, Jay Heikes, Luther Price, Brie Ruais and Ryan Sullivan. (images: courtesy Xavier Hufkens)

Bach, and a master of ceremonies with magical powers: Raimund Hoghe’s ‘Cantatas’

Posted in dance with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

'Cantatas' (Raimund Hoghe; photo: Rosa Frank)

Allow me to start with a bold statement, for once. I think every art student (dance, theater or visual arts) should at least have seen one performance by Raimund Hoghe. In order to realize how one can create something with almost nothing. It was a while since I’d seen one of his performances, and even though I wasn’t entirely taken by Cantatas – his newest piece –  Hoghe, as master of ceremonies with a minimal toolbox, once again succeeded in enchanting me.

 

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Cologne art scene moves to Brussels for one weekend: Brussels-Cologne Contemporaries

Posted in art with tags , , on January 19, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

A work of art? Or just some junk someone has forgotten to pick up? You’ll certainly be asking yourself that question at some point, upon visiting Brussels-Cologne Contemporaries, this weekend. Because (1) not all the works of art at this fair that isn’t a fair are that great and (2) they are presented in a vast space that looks as if the construction workers have just left the building. But: BCC, the 2nd edition of an informal encounter between emerging art galleries from Brussels (7) and Cologne (12). Every gallery presents a single artist, and a special BCC Award (a solo show at Centrale, Brussels, and €1000) is awarded too (winner: Marcus Kleinfeld, gallery Schmidt & Handrup, Cologne). Do drop by, as the exhibition space at MAD, the new ‘mode and design’ center in Brussels, is much bigger than you’ll expect, because you’ll be able to discover new artists, ánd admission is free. (10 Place du Nouveau Marché aux Grains/Nieuwe Graanmarkt; Sat 19 & Sun 20-1; noon-7PM)

Picasso’s wife is shedding paper tears: Francesco Vezzoli builds temple for Olga Khokhlova (Almine Rech, Brussels)

Posted in art with tags , on December 8, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

Jeff Koons has barely left the building, or Almine Rech Gallery Brussels has already brought in another high-profile artist. One who’s also known for his grand gestures, his bling bling kind of art and his links with the rich and the famous, although his name will not be that familiar to a broader audience. But: Francesco Vezzoli is the man who came up with a trailer for an imaginary Caligula movie in 2006, starring Helen Mirren and Courtney Love (watch it here) and who made a commercial (directed by Roman Polanski) for a fake perfume, Greed, starring Nathalie Portman and Michelle Williams (watch it here) in 2009.

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Exhibit A: an enormous tractor tyre by Michel François (‘Pièces à conviction’, Xavier Hufkens)

Posted in art, sculpture with tags on December 5, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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Even highbrow art connoisseurs sometimes can’t hide a childlike sense of wonder. It was funny to see how at the opening of Pièces à conviction, by Belgian artist/sculptor Michel François, everyone just had to go to that big window and stare smilingly at that enormous tractor tyre in the garden (diameter: 2,58 meter). Pièces a conviction (at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, through January 12) is about how simple gestures can change the status of an object. François started out from a series of photos he took at the Palace of Justice in Brussels, of pièces à conviction (pieces of evidence; exhibits): documents or objects that are used in court as evidence. Putting that label on those simple objects changes the way they are perceived. The other work that had everyone smiling? A torn bag with peanuts spilled all over the floor. Plain peanuts? No: bronze ones. You’ll find a picture after the jump.

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Old hardware store becomes temporary art gallery (‘We do not remember the Berlin wall’, Quincaillerie Vander Eycken, Brussels)

Posted in art with tags on November 17, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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The most remarkable gallery show right now in Brussels? Don’t look any further. Let me tell you. And that’s because you’ll have to really look for it to find it: it’s in an old hardware store and not in a regular gallery. We do not remember the Berlin wall (through November 25, Rue du Viaduc 66, near Musée d’Ixelles) has two things going for it: one, the location is extraordinary (so you will not be disappointed, even if you don’t like the art), and two, it’s clear that enough thought has been put into where the works of art would be placed in that gigantic space. Curated by Emilie Pischedda and Barthélémy Schöller, and based on a quote by Walter Benjamin, it unites 12 artists linked in one way or the other to Berlin. Quincaillerie Vander Eycken opened in 1878 and was widely known until it went out of business in 2009. It’s a space for cultural events now (info here). Due to the positive feedback both curators hope to ‘re-activate’ other places with exhibitions in the future. We’ll be following them, and you can to, on their blog. One little detail: this unusual gallery does have one thing in common with the regular ones: all the works of art are for sale.

The same and not the same: Roni Horn’s ‘Selected drawings’ at Xavier Hufkens (Brussels)

Posted in art with tags , on November 2, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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Sure, your attention will first be drawn to those large drawings, looking like giant roadmaps left by extraterrestrials, including strange codes you’re unable to crack. But in the end it was the room with smaller drawings I kept returning to. Drawings focusing on those pairs that are a recurring theme in Roni Horn‘s practice as an artist. Selected drawings 1984-2012, at Xavier Hufkens (Brussels; through November 24) is a slightly altered version of the exhibition that was on show this summer at Hauser & Wirth Zürich. It is the first survey exhibition dedicated to the pigment drawings of the acclaimed American artist who works across a wide range of media, but who considers drawing to be her ‘primary activity’. I recommend you catch it before November 17, so you can drop by at Jeff Koons at Almine Rech just around the corner too. A catalogue will be published by JRP/Ringier. (All images: courtesy the Artist & Xavier Hufkens)

Crime and punishment in a never-ending story: ‘Marktplaats 76/Marketplace 76’ (Jan Lauwers & Needcompany)

Posted in performance, theatre with tags , , , , on November 1, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

‘Winters end, but stories always go on.’ By the time Jan Lauwers utters those words, wrapping things up, you’ve seen it all: death, rape, suicide, incest, crime, atonement and revenge. Packed in a performance comprising song and dance, combining grotesque elements à la Paul McCarthy and silly stuff that remind you of children’s stories. Marktplaats 76/Marketplace 76 sure is entertaining, but those last words of the Needcompany director also expose its Achilles heel: you feel Lauwers could have gone on and on, adding new chapters to his story. I was missing a sense of urgency. Continue reading

More promised than delivered: Alfredo Jaar’s ‘Let there be light’ (ING, Brussels)

Posted in art, photography, video with tags , on October 24, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

Those of you living in Brussels will undoubtedly have seen the posters, banners and adverts. Having visited Let there be light (through December 10), I feel a gentle warning is in order here. The publicity campaign makes one believe this is a large exhibition devoted to the work of Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar, which means you might be disappointed when you visit the ING Cultural Centre near the Magritte Museum. Let there be light comprises just 12 works and so it feels more like a small gallery show than an extensive overview. Another disappointment is that it centres around the big box containing the (ever impressive) Sound of silence installation, which has been on show already during a couple of recent exhibitions in Belgium. It certainly would have been nice if a bit more of Jaar’s other work would have balanced this. Let there be light is labelled as a ‘satellite exhibition’ of Newtopia, and that’s exactly what it is. Do go to Mechelen first, for an exhibition that is really worth the trip (review here), then use your ticket later on to visit Let there be light for free.

Muhammad Ali, the Hulk and an aluminum dog with stretch panties – Jeff Koons talks about his exhibition at Almine Rech Gallery (Brussels)

Posted in art with tags on October 13, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

‘The power of art lies in its connections’ 

‘My biggest influence? Picasso.’ Every inch a gentleman. Or should that be: salesman? It certainly is the correct answer for an artist showing his work at a gallery owned by Picasso’s grandson and his spouse. For the first time since 1992 Jeff Koons is presenting some of his work in Belgium (through November 17): 17 pieces, dating from 1994 to a painting the American artist finished most recently. On the day of the opening Koons offered a tour through his show, and Utopia Parkway smilingly followed him about. So, thinking of going over to this exhibition many Belgian museums or institutions will envy the Almine Rech Gallery for? Then read the holy words by the master himself. Con man or genius? Never mind. Follow that guide!

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Too much bling bling, not enough edge: Fotofever fair lands in Brussels

Posted in art, photography with tags on October 4, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

That red wall. Those six black and white photographs of refugees by Charif Benhelima. The contrast couldn’t have been bigger, with everything I had just seen. Sure, it’s nice that with Fotofever (through October 7, Tour & Taxis) Brussels is now having a fair for art galleries specializing in photography. After a first edition in Paris last year (40 galleries, 11.500 visitors), it has now landed here, with some 60 galleries presenting their artists. But you’ll agree with me that most of the pictures on display are on the safe side; big, slick, colourful and trying to please in one way or the other. Too much bling bling, not enough edge. (And that special corner for ‘young’ galleries feels like a joke, really.) So: respect to Bozar (Brussels), for showing those Benhelima’s. On the wall of the VIP-lounge, of all places.

Tropical heat in a Masonic temple? La Loge presents ‘Parque do Flamengo’ by Sophie Nys

Posted in art, video with tags , , on October 1, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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There’s always room for more. Especially if that room is an extraordinary one. One of several recently opened art galleries in Brussels is a gallery of a totally different kind as it is housed in a beautiful old Masonic temple. It was built in 1934-35 by two Modernist architects. The gallery, aptly named La Loge, is a privately funded non-profit association, initiated by Belgian architect Philippe Rotthier. Walking through that doorway truly means stepping into another world. A feeling that is enhanced by the atmosphere created by La Loge’s first exhibition: Parque do Flamingo (through November 3), a film by Belgian artist Sophie Nys, made in Rio de  Janeiro. It is a 45-minute uncut travelling shot, crossing the park – 7 kilometres long and designed in the fifties by Roberto Burle Marx – from end to end, with a soundtrack composed by Arto Lindsay. Minimalist, suave and oozing tropical heat. La Loge’s next project will be a collaboration between visual artists Zin Taylor and Roe Etheridge.

Morning sunlight printed on a 7.000 € scarf: ‘Couleurs de l’ombre’ by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Posted in art, design with tags , , , , on September 26, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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Sure, it’s Hermès, and thus we’re talking ‘extreme luxury goods’, but nevertheless, do drop by at the Hermès shop in Brussels one of these, as just looking won’t cost you anything. On display at the exhibition space (La Verrière; through September 29) is Couleurs de l’ombre/Colours of shadow, a project by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, who became known to a wider audience when U2 used one of his pictures for the cover of No line on the horizon. Often Sugimoto’s projects are related to the passing of time. Colours of shade – based on observations by Sir Isaac Newton (Opticks) and Goethe (Zur Farbenlehre) and first presented at Art Basel – is about making visible the colours of light which the eye doesn’t perceive. Sugimoto took Polaroids of the gradations of morning sunlight, using a giant crystal prism and a mirror, in his Tokyo studio. Twenty of those Polaroids were chosen and printed on silk scarves, each in a limited edition of 7: a total of 140 scarves measuring 140 cm x 140 cm. Fashion addict ánd art collector? You can buy a scarf for € 7.000 here. More about Sugimoto and this project here.

The artist has left the building (and his artworks too): ‘Without (Jonathan Monk)’ – Meessen De Clercq (Brussels)

Posted in art with tags , on September 21, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

In for a game? Or some artsy playfulness? Then pay a visit to an exhibition of a different kind. Without (Jonathan Monk) indeed is a show without works by the British, Berlin-based artist. But it still is a show about the man who has already been described as ‘one of the cleverer jester-stalkers of the art world’ or ‘the art world’s biggest vampire’ (Monk often recycles work of other artists).
Without (Jonathan Monk), at Meessen De Clercq (Brussels, through October 27), tries to paint a picture of Monk’s universe in a different way: by presenting works by a number of artists, addressing artworks made by Monk or using his presence in one way or the other. Those works are combined with works from Monk’s art collection (Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman).
Monk remains absent, but he is very well alive, as Markus Sixay’s contribution proves. The German artist asked Monk to install a gps tracking application on his phone. Wherever Monk will go, the work will go. At the end of each day during the exhibition Monk sends his data to the gallery and each printout will be put on the wall.
Curious by now about what is left out? You’ll find images of Monk’s work here and here. (image: courtesy M. Sixay, Mehdi Chouakri & Meessen De Clercq)

 

The view is spectacular, and the painting is rather nice too: Pieter Vermeersch at Appartement Elisa Platteau (Brussels)

Posted in art, painting with tags on September 11, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

Just another empty apartment, waiting for the next tenant to move in? It sure looks so. But it isn’t. This is an art gallery. Albeit an empty one, for the time being. Although: empty? Look closer at those walls. The dégradé might look slightly familiar. Indeed: it’s an in-situ painting by Belgian artist Pieter Vermeersch. His work of art is the first one to be ‘installed’ at this 10th floor apartment in Brussels (through Nov 3). Appartement is a new project by gallerist Elisa Platteau who is also presenting a solo show by Vermeersch at her ‘real’ gallery (through October 20). At the apartment she will host exhibitions for one year. During that year, new works will be added to form an exhibition. And I know it’s about the art, but let me share this secret with you: the view of the skyline of Brussels, from that 10th floor, is spectacular. That alone is worth the trip. (Appartement Elisa Platteau can be visited Thur-Sat, 2-6 PM; info here).

Here today, gone tomorrow: first (pop-up) exhibition by Le Salon (Brussels)

Posted in art with tags , , , , on September 10, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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The fun thing about a thriving art and gallery scene? That big events always bring about smaller ones. That apart from the well-known you’ll see fresh and new things emerge too. Brussels Art Days, with almost 40 (!) participating galleries, was already a lot to take in. But for the adventurous art lover there was even more. Such as the first exhibition curated by Le Salon: a three-day pop-up exhibition in an uninhabited building, set up in collaboration with (SIC) (Brussels), Formcontent (London) and 1M3 (Lausanne). Le Salon is an online platform focusing on art from Brussels, presenting interviews, reviews and studio visits. You’ll find it here. They were smart enough to come up with the one thing the people from Brussels Art Days didn’t think about: a closing party for that busy art weekend.

Trying to make it work: ‘Mindscapes’ – Centrale For Contemporary Art (Brussels)

Posted in art, photography, video with tags , , on September 4, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

Some cafés or restaurants never really get off the ground, no matter how much work is put into it. Bad karma? I hope De Elektriciteitscentrale/La Centrale Electrique isn’t falling into that category. Yes, it’s conveniently located right in the center of Brussels, but: one has to know where to look to find that door. Yes, it’s a big space, but at the same time: all past exhibitions have proven that it is a difficult spot to set up a nice exhibition in. The space has recently been given a relaunch by the city of Brussels, with a new name (Centrale For Contemporary Art) and a new artistic director (Carine Fol, ex-Art&Marges), so now would be the right moment to go and see for yourself. Especially as Mindscapes (‘how to make the invisible visible’; through September 30) is a rather nice exhibition, with works by Dirk Braeckman, Man Ray, Bill Viola (his Reflecting pool), Carl De Keyzer, Francesca Woodman and Andreas Gursky. But you’ll agree, as you’ll be leaving the building: there’s something about this place that doesn’t really click. You’ll find an online flipping book with several works from the exhibition here.

Last chance to drink a cup of tea at Jeremy Deller’s snack bar (‘Joy in people’, Wiels)

Posted in art, performance, video with tags , , on August 14, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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The guy near me saw me smile. So he put those headphones on too. But he clearly didn’t get it. Joy Division played on steel drums? I guess one must have been around in the eighties to really see the fun of that. Just as I think one must be a bit of a rock fan to get some of the other stuff in the Jeremy Deller retrospective Joy in people, currently at Wiels (Brussels; through August 19). The search for Bez of the Happy Mondays? Those interviews with Depeche Mode fans? (Do go to the basement for that video.) But with London-born Deller, awarded the Turner Prize in 2004, it’s never just about the music. It’s about much more: social interaction, codes, folk culture. Take his classic restaging of The battle of Orgreave, for instance. Or Valerie’s Snack Bar. You still have five days to visit the great mid-career survey of this ‘self-taught conceptual artist’ and ‘assembler of things’. And don’t forget to watch that video about Deller’s public domain projects, as he conceives most of his art purposefully avoiding galleries. Hurry!

‘Un-Scene II’ versus ‘Landschap’: a case of expecting too much… and nothing at all?

Posted in art, painting, sculpture with tags , , , , on August 10, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

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When is a work of art a work of art? Who is to decide? The artist? The curator? The viewer? What makes the difference between an amateur and a professional artist? Skills? Or just the answer to that question: what’s your profession? It was a confusing one, the day on which I visited two exhibitions presenting Belgian talent. Landschap (landscape) is an exhibition for which Hans Op de Beeck has selected some 30 paintings from 1.000 paintings presented to him by 350 amateur painters. He shows them at De Warande (Turnhout; through August 19) in a gloomy, greyish setting, clearly bearing his signature. Un-Scene II, at Wiels (Brussels, through August 26), in an attempt to show what’s going on right now in the real Belgian art scene, presents the work of 12 artists. How come I was somewhat disappointed by Un-Scene and I was sometimes surprised by the work of those amateurs at De Warande? Just a case of expecting too much and expecting nothing at all? Was Op de Beeck’s scenography a clever magician’s trick? Did he make me see things that weren’t there? And did I fail to really see the potential of some of those works at Un-Scene? Didn’t I say so? A confusing day. My kind of day.

Behind the curtain: or how the photobooth always beats the artist (‘Photomaton’, Botanique)

Posted in art, photography with tags , , on August 9, 2012 by Utopia Parkway

The fun part? There’s a photobooth outside, waiting for you. The interesting part? The universal appeal of that little cabin with a curtain. Realizing how, since the twenties and the Surrealists, almost every artist has been fascinated by it. The disappointing part? The art it has generated isn’t always that exceptional. Behind the curtain -The aesthetics of the photobooth (Botanique, Brussels; till August 19), compiled by the people who brought you that much talked-about Controverses, comprises works of art by Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Arnulf Rainer and Gillian Wearing. Sure, it’s interesting to see how they all have been allured by that magic booth. But it’s as if the fun always gets in the way of the art. You leave the exhibition thinking: it is as if the booth always beats the artist.

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