The sound of the underground
Never before did so many international blue-chip galleries have a second base in Brussels, whether it’s Galerie Almine Rech, Gladstone Gallery or Mendes Wood. But at the same time the non-profit and artist run spaces are proliferating. We took a peek underground for the most fascinating exhibitions of the moment.
Greylight Projects, the non-profit space opposite the Botanique in Saint Josse Ten Noode, is, literally, underground. The complex, that also houses fourteen artist studios, has an exhibition space in the building’s basement. The suite of rooms is perfect for an exhibition of varying constellations. Exhibitions or events are occasionally organized in the chapel, a wonderful, dilapidated space in an eclectic style. During Art Brussels, the double exhibition ‘Parallel Placements’ will be on view there, by Laurent Malherbe and Gerard Koek, on reflections and parallels. In addition to the open studios that allow you to step into the workspaces of Wouter Huis, Marcin Dudek, Marc Buchy and others, downstairs you can visit the exhibition ‘Curator Esquis’, an exhibition compiled by no less than fifteen curators. The exhibition is more than a wink at the trend of exhibitions that have more curators than artists; it is also a ‘cadavre exquis’: all the curators who worked with Greylight in the past can respond to a proposal by a preceding curator. The billboard outside will be occupied by Thomas Bernadet.
Société in Molenbeek is located in in a type of power station of the nineteen thirties. The space, run by curators Manuel Abendroth and Els Vermang, has a programme that investigates the link between conceptual art and new media. It previously hosted a cleverly assembled exhibition on copy art. The present exhibition ‘Earth & Sky’ is about perception, and brings together work by Nicolas Bourthoumieux, Mark Geffriaud, Douglas Huebler, Jonathan Monk, Dennis Oppenheim, Ed Ruscha …
In Saint Gilles, the south of the city, you find S A L O O N – an art space that, for the moment, has no fixed abode. It is presently hosted by Komplot, a curator’s collective that has become a fixture in the Brussels artistic ecosystem. It doesn’t always have to be young, up and coming talent: here you can see a show by the German, 92 year-old artist Heinz Butz. He makes canvases of extraordinary shapes, which leads to his work being compared to that of Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella or Blinky Palermo.
A bit further on is Deborah Bowmann, a collective that often plays with the codes of art and commerce. After transforming the exhibition space into a shoe shop where you could buy unique, sculpted specimens, they have now invited Alexandre Lavet and Nicolas Moreau to collaborate. A darkened space, with a dirty matrass and some empty beer cans, forms the setting of an evolving installation. The objects transpire to be trompe l’oeil renditions, created manually by the artists.
SUPERDEALS is a residency with an exhibition space. In the context of Perruche (a curatorial project in collaboration with Jana Hackel from the Goethe Institute) Julien Creuzet has a show there, tackling postcolonial themes with his performances and spoken word. And Fred Dewey from Los Angeles is writer in residence for the month of April.
Island is in the east of the city, in Etterbeek, close to the legendary chip shop Maison Antoine, where in the past the likes of both Mick Jagger and Angela Merkel have been spotted. You can find a solo exhibition there of Gaëlle Leenhardt, an artist worth watching. Like an archaeologist of sorts, she digs and unearths fragments of ruins with which she exposes the history of a place.
The legendary Etablissement d’en face at Central Station needs no introduction. Renowned for its pleasantly deranged exhibitions, Etablissement is presenting a show by Filip Gilissen, an artist who works with the phantasmagoria of fame and success and the culture of consumption and online exposure. For the first time, he is departing from his usual material – gold – but he has yet to foreswear kitsch. For his exhibition, he is also transforming the venue’s space. Besides the exhibition there is also a book launch in the Pain Quotidien in Waterloo where Gilissen will recite Shakespeare sonnets accompanied by a flute. Hip!