Carine Fol, inspired curator

Artistic Director of La Centrale, Carine Fol presents “Private Choices”, a selection of eleven collections of contemporary art from Brussels. Conceptual objects, political pieces and even sensual images… Eleven intimate adventures running until 27 May. Interview.   La Centrale is Belgium’s hotspot for contemporary creativity. The art center is sponsored by the city of Brussels and is located in a former power station on Place Sainte-Catherine. Carine Fol, artistic director of this extraordinary place, has brought the programming here to life since 2012.  An art historian and specialist in “outsider” art, for the past ten years this supercharged woman has directed Art & Marges, a singular space dedicated to the creation of asylum and to self-taught artists. Today, at La Centrale, she’s receiving an ambitious exhibition; “Private Choices”. Eleven collections of contemporary art from within Brussels… with just as many varying perspectives on the world.   ‘Private Choices’, is the story of eleven adventures – sometimes intimate, sometimes intellectual, often sensitive… What’s the thinking behind the exhibition? I wanted to show the decisive, and increasingly important role that collectors play in the field of contemporary art. I also wanted to explore their freedom with regard to public collections, with intuition being an important factor in many of the collections. I think that this exhibition, with 250 works of art, breaks down the preconceived idea of a collector – the image of a player in the art market who invests in contemporary art for speculative purposes. Collectors actually take a lot of risks, and are often very close to the artists.  In Frédéric de Goldschmidt’s collection, we have Cy Twombly alongside the work of a student just out of art school, demonstrating that often gut feeling is really what informs a decision. Those decisions, as part of a museum institution,...

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Museum in a Garage

Already the seat of the European Union, will Brussels soon be the new hub for contemporary art? In any case, it’s what Rudi Vervoort, patron of the Brussels-Capital region, has in mind. At the heart of the project is the iconic Citroën garage on Place de l’Yser. So what are the returns on this crazy bet?   There’s no longer any doubt that with the big – and rather extravagant-opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, last November, France has not quite finished establishing its cultural expertise and influence abroad. It is also clear that within the art world, the Centre Georges-Pompidou is truly enjoying the wind in its sails. After the success of its Iberian pop-up, which ran for five years in the Andalusian city of Malaga, the Parisian museum institution has surfed a wave of recognition and new partnerships, moving into Shanghai as soon as 2019, with Brussels on the horizon in 2020-2021. Nestled in the heart of the Belgian capital, at the crossroads between Place de l’Yser and the Quai de Willebroeck, the iconic Citroën garage has been chosen to become the future cultural and artistic hub of the “flat country”. Located on the edge of the canal, just a stone’s throw from Place Sainctelette, the garage was erected in 1933 following plans drawn up by André Citroën himself, who had ambitions to create the biggest car factory in Europe. The lovely glass palace, 21 meters tall, is characterized by a curved curtain façade, all built on 2 hectares of land. It would be nearly a century before the fate of the site changed course. In October 2015, the land was bought by the Society of Urban Planning (SAU), a real estate concern of the Brussels-Capital region, for €20.5 million, with the intention of making it the...

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Rendezvous at the Patinoire Royale!

It’s a majestic space stretching over nearly 3,000 m2, which once delighted roller skaters. Today it’s an exhibition space with a difference, in the middle of Brussels. We spend an hour with Valérie Bach and find out about her commitment to contemporary art… at the heart of a historic monument. Valérie Bach moved to Brussels in 2005. At that time, she opened her first art gallery in the Sablon district. It was in 2007 that she and her husband discovered La Patinoire Royale, a neo-classical building constructed in 1877 right in the centre of the Belgian capital. Semi-circular arch windows, a magnificent Polonceau structure, period glasswork… They fell in love with it immediately, and very soon after, the couple bought the site. As of 2012, the Galerie Valérie Bach began presenting its programme on this site in the wing looking out onto Rue Faider, while restoration of the building’s nave continued, overseen by the Jean-Paul Hermant and Pierre Yovanovitch architecture firms. It was thus in April 2015 that Valérie Bach, along with her director Constantin Chariot and his team, inaugurated this new hybrid venue which has preserved its historic name. Already, three exhibitions have taken place here: “La Résistance des images”, showing nearly 170 works representing major figures in narrative figuration, curated by Jean-Jacques Aillagon; “Let’s Move!”, a vast retrospective of kinetic art organised by Arnauld Pierre; and “Prouvé / Takis” organised in collaboration with the gallery Downtown. And now, until 25 March, and for the first time since the opening of La Patinoire, all of the venue’s spaces are being handed over to one artist: Joana Vasconcelos from Portugal, whose show includes a few monumental works. You are the manager of the Patinoire, as well as of the gallery bearing your name. What is the relationship between these two spaces? Despite...

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The search for the Belgian collector

They’re said to be demanding, eclectic, international… and above all, very numerous. Who are the Belgian collectors? A foretaste and a scan before meeting them face to face in the alleys of the BRAFA. As a small bilingual country at the heart of Europe, Belgium is often presented as “the country with the highest number of collectors per square metre”. In the absence of any global study on the matter, it’s impossible to confirm this, but what is certain is that Belgium is well and truly a “land of collectors,” declares Axel Gryspeerdt, president of Collectiana, a foundation aimed at studying and developing art and culture collections. But things get trickier when it’s a matter of defining “the” Belgian collector. “There’s no typical profile for the Belgian collector, and if ever Belgians present specific features, they result from a blend of factors such as internationalisation, networking, the multitude of exhibitions being held,” adds Axel Gryspeerdt. No identikit emerges, therefore, but we can single out the characteristics of these key players in the art world. Collectors that weren’t born yesterday “The collecting tradition dates back to Flanders in the 15th century when many orders of portraits and triptychs were placed,” comments Tanguy Eeckhout, curator at the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Laethem-Saint-Martin. “The 16th and 17th centuries carried on this enthusiasm with the creation of curiosity cabinets, before a slowdown in the economy – and collections – until the end of the 19th century. Following World War II, there emerged a new generation of collectors who turned towards American art and conceptual art,” he adds. When the Sixties and Seventies shook things up, collectors showed support for Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers, Niele Toroni and many others, years before these artists gained institutional recognition. This no doubt sparked the reputation of boldness among...

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Julio Le Parc, a tireless creator

The Brussels fair is paying homage to a founding member of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) by welcoming four of Julio Le Parc’s monumental works. An opportunity to look over the career of this indomitable artist.   Julio Le Parc had to wait a long time before institutions began to recognise him in the way that he deserves. Today, the Argentinian artist is finally being given his dues, now acknowledged as “a living legend” in the art world, as the Galerie Perrotin hastens to describe him. Having decided to represent him since November 2016, this gallery has kicked off its collaboration with the artist with a solo exhibition in its space in New York – a city where Julio Le Parc has not been shown since 1973. “It was time to rectify this error,” notes the Parisian gallery. Offering an interesting bridge towards the retrospective prepared by Pérez Art Museum in Miami (visible until 19 March 2017), the Perrotin exhibition presented both recent works and iconic pieces, already seen in major monographic shows such as the one at the Palais de Tokyo in 2013. It was the latter event that truly marked Julio Le Parc’s return to favour. The institution, having undergone a makeover, reopened with this retrospective organised by Jean de Loisy: 2,000 m2 devoted to the artist and gathering historic works including Continuel Mobile from 1963, today visible at BRAFA. Drawing 180,000 visitors, the Palais de Tokyo show met with success amongst critics and the general public alike. It followed up “Le Parc Lumière”, organised by the Daros Latinamerica Collection in Zurich in 2005, and the Centre Pompidou Metz exhibition in 2011-2012 titled “Erre”, a collective show which devoted an entire room to Julio Le Parc’s works… after 20 years in purgatory. Julio Le Parc...

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