When people think of Brussels, most think of the European Quarter they see regularly on news features with trench-coated men and women racing blankly from one meeting to another, most times under an overcast drizzle. It's a pity that the rich and plentiful art scene, mostly concentrated around the historical centre and suburban neighbourhoods is not as familiar with most. Would I be too ambitious in making it part of my blog's mission to showcase this side of Brussels? Let me start with this ...
The BOZAR - a cultural centre encapsulating art, music, cinema offering a holistic cultural experience minutes off Brussels' Grand Place - is currently hosting the exhibition Beyond Klimt: New Horizons in Central Europe, 1914-1938, within the framework of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Most will have heard of Klimt and his sensuous figures in sinuous bright pigments and gold - I must admit, the reference to good old Gustav was was drew me to this exhibition. What I wasn't prepared for, and what I very gladly found out, was that there was a whole plethora of lesser-known contemporaries of his whose oeuvre is as inspiring as his. This exhibition seeks to bring to the fore other artists whose post-war ideologies fed their work and were shared across the Austro-Hungarian empire.
The end of WWI and the Austro-Hungarian Empire also meant the revival of major developments in the art world. Political and economic shifts led to artistic migrations, new ideas and perspectives and new artistic networks sprang up all over the place. Artists met up in arts centres and international associations and used magazines to communicate across political borders. They believed their artistic identity was more important than their nationality. (BOZAR)
I was of course pleased to come across Alfons Mucha's studies for his Slavic Epic - double familiarity came into play there for me: him being one of my favourites and the finished work having been something I had the opportunity to see many moons ago in Prague. However, what was most intriguing was seeing the artistic evolution from Art Nouveau to Expressionism, Bauhaus and Surrealism to starker and bleaker styles which could be forewarning the imminence of another war.
Beyond Klimt: New Horizons in Central Europe, 1914-1938 is open from 21 September 2018 to 20 January 2019. For tickets, click here.