Art is often related to the heart and this is frequently elucidated by wonderful exhibitions around. Belgium has been a major hub of art for centuries and Belfius has a very wide collection, precisely over 4300 artworks in their repository. They make an effort to curate stunning pieces of art, based on themes and share them for the public to savour. While the pandemic has had robbed us of these opportunities in the past two years, thankfully exhibitions are back now! And the first from Belfius post Covid-19 is ‘Art Beats‘ – a vibrant and stimulating mélange of 63 Belgian artworks.
As the curator Bénédicte Bouton explained, this exhibition has been put together to connect the works of old and new artists, matching their styles, techniques and energies in a scientific and artistic way to create this event in unison. Gazing at the diversity of artists, all of them Belgian (to be noted), I was wondering at the amount of research that went behind planning and curating such an eclectic mélange. To begin with, ‘Le Congrès’ (1941) by Paul Delvaux greets you from a stark wall to arouse your imagination. It is heightened by the intriguing modern installation ‘Friction in Plain Sight VII’ (2021) by Brussels based artist Nadia Guerroui. It is made of a curtain of iridescent fabric that plays with light when you see through it. I spent quite a few minutes before this piece and trust me, it has a calming yet exciting effect on the viewer.
There is inspiration from nature that’s splashed on the canvas in an abundance of colours, shapes and senses. Ghent based artist Hans Vandekerckhove’s ‘The Well’ (2002) is a dazzling example of the artist’s motivation from his travels to the plains in the United Kingdom where William Wordsworth wrote his famous poems.
From Peter Paul Rubens, James Ensor, Theo Van Rysselberghe, Réne Magritte to Léon Spilliaert – the stalwarts accompany and look over their younger counterparts at this magnificent ensemble of artists. If you are at the exhibition, do not miss the ‘Black Room’ that hosts the Rubens and Ensor. In the same room is ‘Venom from the Ruby of their Lips’ (2020) by Sanam Khatibi, the Belgian artist is a large canvas where her female figures are ‘presented as protagonists and not victims.’ Style and sensuality play a dominant role in this otherwise serene canvas.
Young Belgian artist Bendt Eyckermans is featured in this exhibition with his stunning painting ‘Ochtendlicht’ (2019). Bendt is very close to his Belgian roots and his art is a sort of tribute to stalwarts like Constant Permeke. The influence is quite visible in this particular painting. It was quite heartening to see Bendt proudly presenting an amazing work of his.
This is one exhibition that will make you think, ponder, visualise and interpret art in your own individual way. And as the curator Bénédicte Bouton mentioned, there is a bonus artwork that you can see here – this spectacular view of Brussels from the 32nd floor of the Belfius Art Gallery.
Photos: Priyanka Roy Banerjee / WeLoveBrussels