What exactly is the essence of Belgium? Far harder to pin down than French chic or English sang-froid, the nation’s uneasy mix of Walloon and Flemish, surreal and down-to-earth, all miraculously held together, is perfectly encapsulated by the Atomium – a giant, futuristic structure on the northern edge of Brussels.
Matisse’s Startling Late Works: The Cut-Outs. Tate Modern, 17 April – 7 September 2014 No wonder Henri Matisse is well loved. His works are sensuous, jubilant, gorgeous: they envelop and immerse the viewer in voluptuousness, in light that finds itself materialised as coloured form, coloured space.
A fascination with ruins has not always been with us. It presumes, for one, a linear notion of time, in other words the idea that the past is irrevocably lost. It is also born of a forensic – or archaeological – interest in history, one that sees in broken remains the traces of past acts and endeavours.
One of the more unlikely joys of Brussels life is the rotating EU presidency. Every six months, a different member of the 28-strong European Union takes on the task of presiding over policy-making. For the citizens of Brussels, it’s a chance for a cultural mini break without the expense and inconvenience of braving the airport.
In Brussels, art nouveau found its most complete expression in the architecture of Victor Horta. Now the Brussels’ Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts has devoted a huge new “Fin-de-Siecle” section, a museum in itself, to the artistic context in which he thrived.
It is always interesting to pinpoint the moment when one becomes conscious of a change of mood or orientation in contemporary artistic practices. Something has emerged that offers quite a different tonic. This ‘something’ might be termed ‘mindful matter’: it is materialism with a twist, or with a new twist.
The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, 11 June – 26 August 2013. Souzu – Outsider Art from Japan, Wellcome Collection, 28 March – 30 June 2013.