Contemporary art brings sparkle to the cultural scene in Brussels

Every year, from April to May, contemporary art takes centre stage. From the not-to-be-missed Art Brussels to the Wim Delvoye exhibition and not forgetting the Poppositions art fair, there’s no shortage of fairs and shows focused on Belgian and international artists.

Brussels has become a real hub for contemporary art and a fertile creative seedbed. Lots of international artists are being captivated by the city’s many beautiful spaces dedicated to art. Collectors from all over the world regularly visit the capital in search of that one piece of work or object that stands out from the rest.

Brussels artists at the Venice Biennale

On the occasion of the 58th Venice contemporary art Biennial, the Belgian Pavilion will be hosting the MONDO CANE project, proposed by the Brussels artists duo of Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, and the curator Anne-Claire Schmitz, director of La Loge art centre.

From 11 May to 24 November, MONDO CANE will be highlighting the human face. The centrepiece of the space will be occupied by craftsmen who, true to themselves, will be showing the results of their respective talents. The location will be further embellished by classic illustrations of nature and culture. On the fringes there will be a parallel world peopled by rogues, zombies, poets, psychotics, madmen and outsiders. While these two different worlds exist within the same space, they do not give the impression of mutual awareness. They do not come into contact. There’s a clear division between them. The pavilion seems to harken back to Europe, while offering a physical walk- through that’s close to a tourism or anthropological experience.

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Here’s a preview of the not to be missed fairs, exhibitions and events, which are taking place in Brussels over the coming weeks.


Art Brussels

Art Brussels, one the best known and respected European art fairs, is announcing a cluster of stars who will be participants at its 37th edition. The fair confirms its international profile by bringing together 148 selected galleries from 32 countries.

It offers a unique opportunity to discover the wealth of the artistic and cultural scene of the European capital, as it draws a growing number of collectors, gallery owners, directors of institutions and art lovers from all over the world. Each year in the month of April, this fair welcomes around 25,000 visitors. In addition to the galleries selected, Art Brussels has launched a new INVITED section for 2019, made up of emerging galleries or art spaces that transcend the normal gallery format. This section supports the developing art market and is encouraging a new generation of young international galleries that have never previously taken part in Art Brussels.

Dates: From 25 to 28 April 2019

Venue: Tour and Taxis

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This year POPPOSITIONS is presenting its 8th edition, entitled ‘Capital of Woke’. Recognising the crucial role of contemporary art fairs within a globalized market, POPPOSITIONS aims to revitalise the ways that pieces are hung and presented, by constantly experimenting and discovering ground-breaking ways of selling. It is more than a fair, it is an exhibition involving ongoing critical dialogue, whilst retaining a stand-based layout.

Dates: From 25 to 28 April 2019

Venue: The Tour à Plomb Centre

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Brussels art organisations are working together to establish a city-wide festival, rooted in its dynamic contemporary art scene. Brussels Art Summit wants to be an impetus to this festival. In the run-up to 2030, a growing number of partners want to see the festival slowly grow into an international art manifestation, a kind of ‘documenta’ for Brussels.

Dates: From 22 to 29 may 2019

Venue: BOZAR

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Themed exhibitions

La Vallée

The origin of the word “SchUss” has a link to the English word shot, which can mean the speed of a shot that leads to the overdose; in line with the many ambiguities resonate through the name given to this exhibition. In the same way as the flexibility of this word, “SchUss” provides an accurate reflection of the elasticity of current artistic practices. Using the media of photography, installation, painting and sculpture, the 20 assembled artists underline the changing nature of young creative trends as being like so many trajectories and traces left behind at great speed on the side of a mountain.

Dates: 24 April – 5 May

Venue: La Vallée

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by Zoë Paul

In Despina Zoë Paul explores the impermanence of life through the lens of ancient mythologies, fertility and femininity. Invited by La Loge, she unites new works and material experiments to construct a narrative with scenes both from the lively territories above the earth and below its surface: the divine yet obscure underworld. Paul underlines the co-dependency between these two spaces through the use of symbols and allegories.

The exhibition approaches the multiple facets of Despina, daughter of Poseidon and Demeter, as the mistress of the house and the underground deity of nature, birth and death. In Greek the word also refers to “lady”, unfolding a series of associations made by the artist around the notion of femininity.

Dates: 25 April – 29 June

Venue : La Loge

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Ellen Gallagher with Edgar Cleijine: Liquid Intelligence

A first-rate contemporary painter, Ellen Gallagher creates a bridge between the organic iconographies based on microbiological forms of oceanography and racialised symbols. She reinterprets both everyday images and the black idols of pop culture while confronting history and American culture. Gallagher’s collaboration with Edgar Cleijne, a Dutch photographer and video maker, is enriched by reflections on how landscapes and worlds are transformed.

Dates: Until 28 April 2019

Venue: Wiels

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Sophie Whettnall – Etel Adnan
The pack ice, the woods and the stars

Sophie Whettnall (1973) works with video, photo, installations and performance. She won the Prix de la Jeune Peinture in 1999 and enjoys international recognition. As is the practice when Brussels artists exhibit at the CENTRALE, Sophie Whettnall has been invited to choose an international artist to exhibit works alongside hers. She has chosen paintings, drawings, watercolours and etchings by Etel Adnan.

At the intersection between the East and West, the work of Etel Adnan, born in Beirut in 1925, is imbued with the riches of the warm lands in her visual output. The subtitle of the exhibition – “The pack ice, the woods and the stars” – evokes both the world of the Belgian artist, as well as that of Adnan. A formal dialogue is established between the two artists, a shared vision, intimate and personal, of the landscape, light and its transparencies.

Dates: Until 4 August 2019

Venue: CENTRALE for Contemporary Art

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Wim Delvoye

A seminal figure on the Belgian artistic scene, Wim Delvoye is known for his humour and his taste for technological experimentation, and his rich and varied artistic output. The exhibition dedicated to him by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium was devised in close collaboration with the artist. If offers an impressive overview of his work while placing the emphasis on his multidisciplinary aspect.

Dates: Until 21 July 2019

Venue: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

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Anouk De Clercq with Vessel and Helga Davis

At the invitation of BOZAR, the artist Anouk De Clercq is executing a new creation that brings a contemporary touch to the art works of the Bernard Van Orley show. Brussels and the Renaissance. In collaboration with the Institute for Systematic Musicology (IPEM) at Ghent University and the experimental composer Vessel, she creates a sound environment inspired by Renaissance vocal music.

Dates: Until 26 May 2019

Venue: BOZAR

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Look at Me

The relation between photographic images and moving images forms the central point of Look at Me. Daguerreotypes – invented in 1839 by Louis-Jacques- Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) and more or less supplanted in 1860 – made an enormous contribution to the popularity of the photographic portrait versus the painted portrait. This development came about due to the relatively low cost, with an exposure moving from a few seconds to several minutes.

Dates: Until 28 April 2019

Venue: Argos Centre for Art and Media

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Ways of Connecting
An exhibition with Evan Roth, Raphaël Bastide & Louise Drulhe

The exhibition shows two pieces alongside one another that reveal and translate new forms of the infrastructures and mechanisms underpinning our connected environment. They are also characterised by the use of P2P web technologies, as alternatives to the centralised Internet which prevails today.

Venue: iMAL
Dates: 25 April – 10 May 2019
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Galila’s P.O.C. (Passion Obsession Collection) – Brussels A Collection Made up of Thematic Collections

Galila Barzilaï-Hollander bought her first contemporary work at the Armory Show in New York in 2005. Since then, she has grown her collection to several thousand works mainly produced by young artists. This intuitive collector is not limited to a single medium and takes an interest in photography, video, painting, works on paper, etc. Her collection is built around themes such as eyes, books, chairs or concepts such as recycling, among others… To make the works she owns accessible to the public, she has redeveloped an industrial building located in the Forest commune.

Visits by appointment only

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