To be or not to be…

/ 26 February, 2015

These days the Universal Art Building of the National Museum of Fine Arts hosts an extensive exhibition of contemporary art in Belgium, a panorama recreated from works by forty artists who currently work, or worked there. Certainly, we know the artistic practices of modern Belgium especially since great creators such as the Flemish painters Anton Van Dyck and Pieter Brueghel the Elder, the expressionist James Ensor, the surrealist René Magritte or the painter and sculptor Constant Permeke entered the history pages of universal art. Today, the range of artists has expanded and Belgium has become a favorable scenario for creation, due to the characteristics of this space: exceptionally multicultural and multi-linguistic.
By the name The Importance of Being … this art exhibition in Belgium, curated by Sara Alonso Gómez, brings an extensive list of Belgian contemporary artists and others who live there, but from countries like Spain, South Africa, and Cameroon; which describes it as a transit place, very culturally active. Thus, endogenous and exogenous perspectives on phenomena affecting the Belgian context itself converge at the exhibition, issues related to the place of origin of some artists -Hanging Piece (1993), Kendell Geers-, on issues that goes beyond borders to be more universal and self-referentiality is present from works with tautological character, insist on the revision of art from creation itself. The identity and biocultural diversity -Koen Vanmechelen, Charif Benhelima-, his gaze to the history of art- Jacques Charlier, Wilm Delvoye-, power and policy – Carl De Keyzer- issues of the global village – Pascale Marthine Tayou – the duality of human existence -Lieve Van Stappen-, among other concerns such as memory, geopolitical conflicts, and the individual’s relationship with the technosphere become dormant in a display with high doses of thematic diversity.
Furthermore, it highlights the richness of languages or aesthetic springs with which contemporary art works. The pitch ranges from those who prefer to examine the lyrical possibilities of painting and go for full autonomy Walter Swennen, Bruno Vekemans, Raoul De Keyser-; to those working with new media such as video art -Marcel Broodthaers, Hans Op De Beeck, Angel Vergara Santiago; or even those who prefer the photo Dirk Braeckman, Ana Torfs- or installation-Peter De Cupere-.
Furthermore, it highlights the richness of languages or aesthetic springs with which contemporary art works. The spectrum ranges from those who prefer to examine the lyrical possibilities of painting and go for full autonomy Walter Swennen, Bruno Vekemans, Raoul De Keyser-; to those working with new media such as video art – Marcel Broodthaers, Hans Op De Beeck, Angel Vergara Santiago; or even those who prefer photography- Dirk Braeckman, Ana Torfs -or installation- Peter De Cupere-.
As a contemporary art thermometer in Belgium, The Importance of Being … highlights the existing nearness at the level of aesthetic and philosophical concerns, a level of aesthetic and philosophical concerns, the Cuban artistic praxis and those of that country. Beyond the unquestionable contextual differences, art has a unifying common mobile and unrivaled power. Contemporary artists, without the unique distinction of nationality- taking into account the complexity of the diagrammed case by the phenomenon of migration- try to define their identity in evolution in time and space through their work. Based on this need, the exhibition is nucleated, as a symptom of the rich and plural nature of contemporary art.
Anyone who attends the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and / or participates in the parallel program organized around the exhibition can enjoy a wide artistic display that gives new life into the four floors of this building. Undoubtedly, this spot is now a required stop for artists, critics, theorists, teachers and anyone who wants to catch up on the peculiarities of contemporary art in Belgium.

Julienne López Hernández

Julienne López Hernández

La Habana (1989). Licenciada en Historia del Arte por la Universidad de La Habana. Desde el 2012 trabaja como docente en el Departamento de Estudios Teóricos y Sociales de la Cultura de la Facultad de Artes y Letras de la Universidad de La Habana. Ha colaborado sobre temas de artes visuales cubano, latinoamericano y caribeño en publicaciones como Artecubano y el Boletín Noticias de Artecubano, y en sitios web y catálogos personales de artistas cubanos contemporáneos.

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