Didier Reynders decorates ‘Top Chef’ Samuel Albert during the inauguration of the exhibition ‘Art & Diplomacy’ at the Egmont Palace

This week Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders opened the exhibition ‘Art & Diplomacy’ at the Egmont Palace. These annual summer exhibitions were initiated by the Minister eight years ago in order to reinforce our foreign policy through our cultural heritage.

At first glance, art and diplomacy may seem odd bedfellows. The world of diplomacy is one of consensus and compromise, of protocol and discretion. Art, on the other hand, strikes us as a rebellious universe, openly critical of the established order. Nevertheless, art is a powerful tool to build bridges between people. By reinforcing cultural cooperation with our partners, we can shape a global order based on freedom of expression, mutual understanding, ‘rule of law’ and respect for fundamental values.

The organization of summer exhibitions features as part of this lesser known, but not less important, aspect of our foreign policy: cultural diplomacy. What is diplomacy without understanding the other? How can one promote peace without intercultural dialogue? Wasn’t Rubens also known for his diplomatic talents after all?

A picture is worth a thousand words… and this is true everywhere. For the very first time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will expose a part of its own collection. The collection, which consists of more than 4500 works of art, was meticulously selected precisely to carry out our values, convictions and world vision.

‘Art & Diplomacy’ will show works by 25 artists as well as didactic objects such as an ambassador’s suit, mock-ups and archives. Amongst the 25 artists are Max Pinckers, Carl De Keyzer, Luc Tuymans, Ana Torfs, Marie-Françoise Plissart and Wim Delvoye. Through 6 different perspectives, the artworks highlight various aspects of Belgian diplomacy, whether it be through our real estate, service to citizens, life in an embassy or even culinary diplomacy.

During the inauguration, Minister Reynders decorated Samuel Albert, chef at the Belgian Embassy in Tokyo and winner of this year’s ‘Top Chef’ series. Both in Japan and during ‘Top Chef’, Samuel Albert has proven to be a real ambassador of Belgian finesse and hospitality. His ‘Pomme de Magritte’ dessert is a nice nod to our culinary and cultural diplomacy.

The exhibition is open to the public from 21/07 till 31/08. Find more details here