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Brussels contemporary art: the highlights of the autumn

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John Armleder, ShAshLashSplash, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, USA, 2019. © David Kordansky Gallery
Published at 28/08/2020
By Mylène

We're still finding sand in the bottoms of our pockets and the city still has that summer feeling, but autumn is almost upon us! While the summer holidays might feel like a lifetime ago, Brussels is once again becoming a real crossroads for contemporary art and our desire for outings and arty exhibitions has grown tenfold. To celebrate the cultural scene's resumption, we share with you our favourites from the capital's museums! 

BOZAR - Danser Brut (24/09/20 > 10/01/21)

Valeska Gert, Tanzerische Pantomimen, 1925 © D.R. Centre national de la danse CND - Valeska Gert, Tanzerische Pantomimen, 1925 Cinémathèque de la danse, Pantin © D.R. Centre national de la danse CND

"Dancer Brut" combines art and movement. From 24 September, it will invite curious visitors to discover dance by showcasing metamorphosis, body expression and the complexity of the gestures. Starting with raw art, visitors will move on to modern and contemporary art with Charlie Chaplin, the dancers of Toulouse-Lautrec, the phantasmagorical performances of German artist Rebecca Horn and the works of Philippe Vandenberg.

The exhibition will also offer a few opportunities to explore movement in the broadest sense: the jerky gestures of neurological disorders and the movements of alienation or despair are also part of the great choreography of our lives. With a veritable kaleidoscope of images (paintings, installations, archives, medical photographs, magazines and film fragments), "Danser Brut" places modernity and the body in a new light and offers an analysis of movement that challenge assumptions!

KANAL - John M Armleder&guests "It never ends" (24/09/20 > 25/04/21)

John Armleder, Skateboarding is not a crime ©Alessandro Zambianchi - John Armleder, Skateboarding is not a crime, 2019. Courtesy Massimo De Carlo ©Alessandro Zambianchi

What do you get when you entrust an artist with almost 6,000m² of KANAL floor space for more than 6 months? A colourful programme of unique works, radical exhibition concepts, unorthodox performances, late-night openings and experimental music, of course! From abstract painting and installations to performance and drawing, the fantasies of John M Armleder have always intersected styles and techniques. With his refreshing eccentricity and his characteristic dose of irony, the 72 year old Swiss artist will bring his multidisciplinary style to the KANAL showroom. 

Like a conductor, John M Armleder will invite a series of guests - including Brussels artists - to participate in the development of this unprecedented exhibition. The programme will change every week, with new surprises, special weekends and live events such as concerts and screenings. A sound piece imagined for the lifts of the Manos Premier Hotel, an installation composed of giant scaffolding and green plants and the in-situ realisation of the largest "pour painting" the artist has ever created. 

HANGAR -  Borderline – Paul D’Haese (5/09/20 > 24/09/20)

Paul D'Haese, serie Borderline (AMB), 2016-2020

Do you miss the sea and the unique atmosphere of the coast? With his new photograph exhibition “Borderline”, Belgian photographer Paul D'Haese transports us to the shores of northern France. Somewhere between the open sea and the urban environment, between sand and concrete, between land and sea. During his hikes along the 350 km that link Bray Dune to Le Havre, he captured the silent villas with closed shutters, the stairs falling straight into the ocean or the deserted parking lots eaten away by the sea spray. Like so many unusual postcards, his snapshots capture a new and troubling side to this scenery. 

The photos in this series also focus on the marks left by the passing of time and the turmoil of the past and present: the symbolic wall that was the Atlantic Ocean, the liberation of France, refugee camps... they tell their own stories about the numerous, contrasted histories of the fifty or so towns and villages that the travelling photographer has passed through.

WIELS – Risquons-Tout (11/09/20 > 10/01/21)

Isaac Julien, O que é um museu? / What is a Museum? (Lina Bo Bardi - A Marvellous Entanglement), 2019. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London/Venice; Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro/New York; Galerie Ron Mandos, Amst - Isaac Julien, O que é um museu? / What is a Museum?, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London/Venice; Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro/New York; Galerie Ron Mandos, Amst

For 15 years, this Brussels institution has amazed us with its sharp, original and sometimes provocative exhibitions. "Risquons Tout" promises to be yet another daring and experimental example. Starting on 11 September, it will bring together 38 artists from Eurocore (between Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Dusseldorf, London and Paris) to explore the notions of borders, connections, transition and transgression.

The artists approach these complex themes in their own way, with works that defy categorisation. You can marvel at Isaac Julien's photographic installations, the works of Brussels artist Lise Duclaux and the canvases of Mounira Al Solh which use irony while evoking migration, war and feminism. Taking a geographical entity as a starting point, "Risquons Tout" takes on politics and finely blurs the

JEWISH MUSEUM OF BELGIUM - Kurt Lewy, Towards abstraction (11/09/20 > 07/02/21 )

"Toward Abstraction" shines a light on an unfairly forgotten artist with a singular destiny. Formed as a tribute, this exhibition is devoted to Kurt Lewy, a Jewish painter from Essen. It retraces his career, from Hitler's Germany to Belgium, evokes his exile and escape from Nazism, his various imprisonments and his attempts to escape. It also shows the evolution of his style and his path from expressionism - which he abandoned at the turn of the Second World War - to abstract art. With his rigorously geometric compositions, Kurt Lewy tirelessly sought a form of stability and stripping down, as if to forget, just a little, the nightmare of war. On canvas or on enamel, his works play with the interweaving of forms and do so with a true sense of rhythm and a beautiful mastery of colour. Deep blues stand out against vibrant reds, and nuances are underlined by the patina of the enamelled copper. The artist mastered this technique to perfection. It all makes for a moving pictorial ensemble that searches for what's essential.