Every two years, Brussels’ Bozar art centre stages a Summer of Photography, comprising a series of events all over the city around a central theme. This year, curator Gabriele Schor has focused on the relationship between people and the public space.
Even with the distraction of the first Saturday of the summer sales, David Bowie still draws a crowd. In an arty backstreet in the Chatelain district of Brussels, tucked behind one of the most expensive shopping streets, a queue of mostly middle-aged fans, waited patiently for one of the city’s many independent galleries with erratic opening hours to unlock its doors.
Born to a well-to-do Antwerp businessman and his aristocratic wife, Fritz Mayer was groomed to become a diplomat, but instead threw himself into collecting with a particular passion for Dutch art of the 14th-16th centuries.
Displayed are elaborate composites, built up from paintings and photographs that eventually result in portraits at once convincingly human, alien and heartless.
Bicycles are as close as it gets to the perfect blend of form and function — but that doesn’t stop designers seeking to make them sleeker, faster and funkier. As such, they are ideal subject-matter for the Design Museum in the Belgian city of Ghent, whose Bike to the Future, despite the corny title, is a wide and even subtle exploration of cycling design and its enormous impact.
In our modern, toxic world, the perfect embodiment of the endless struggle between good and evil could be the green warrior versus the polluter.
Ultimately, that’s the premise of The Toxic Avenger, the rock musical, which director Benji Sperring happened to see during one free afternoon off-Broadway in New York in 2009.
Some lies are so pleasant that we cheerfully believe them. It’s the premise that underlies the illusory appeal of theatre and especially musical theatre. And it makes the 19th-century scandal of a beautiful young woman who lied her way from rags to riches by pretending to be a shipwrecked princess perfect subject-matter for Phil Willmott, one of the nation’s most adept musical theatre professionals.
Between 1560 and 1630, Europe experienced the worst of a Little Ice Age characterised by long, cold winters. The cruel weather coincided with the most intensive period of witch hunts in history. Bruegel the elder, is credited with leading the way as Flemish and Dutch artists developed what is now the popular image of a witch, flying on a broomstick with her ragged hair streaming in the wind.
From stylised art nouveau temptresses to giant Tintin cartoons, Brussels has an established tradition of putting art on the outside of its buildings as well as inside. The capital’s newest gallery in a former brewery in Molenbeek – the neighbourhood notorious as a breeding ground of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks – captures that spirit.
For British rock fans, 2016 is marked by the death of David Bowie. In the French-speaking world, it has further significance as the 25th anniversary of the fatal heart attack that ended Serge Gainsbourg’s career as a hell-raising provocateur whose lyrics prompted President Mitterrand to compare him to Baudelaire. To commemorate the poet of the French rock world, Brussels and Paris have both organised exhibitions of French photographer Pierre Terrasson’s portraits of Gainsbourg and of other major 1980s performers, including Bowie.
Andres Serrano, Uncensored Photographs, Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels. Review by Barbara Lewis.
A denizen is a person, animal or plant that lives in a particular place or region. Photographer Andres Serrano, best known for causing outrage with taboo-breaking images, decided it was le mot juste to describe the homeless people of Brussels he was asked to photograph by the city’s fine arts museum.
As if an extraordinary imagination for fantastic, unsettling monsters and a genius ahead of his time for sensitive, naturalistic depictions of ordinary people weren’t enough, Hieronymous Bosch also had a modern knack for successful branding.