The mysterious world of young Belgian painter Bendt Eyckermans
The Lange Leemstraat is one of Antwerp’s longer continuous streets. It starts on the edge of the city center and cuts straight through the Klein-Antwerpen area, which is popularly better known as (a significant part of) the Jewish neighborhood. The street slices the segment of the Belgian city between the Mechelsesteenweg, the Van Eycklei and the Belgiëlei, in two halfs — together forming a perfect triangle when seen on a map. Most of the tall but narrow houses in the street are at least four stories high and an overall multiethnic feel prevails next to the omnipresence of the orthodox Jewish community; when entering the street one is instantly struck by a metropolitan vibe. It feels like a miniature Brooklyn in the heart of Antwerp. For me, it forms one of the many (hidden) qualities of the city with a remarkable cultural diversity and unique urban structure that was only partly transformed for the modern age.
When continuing along the street from the center, somewhere halfway at the heart of Klein-Antwerpen, the impressive 'Résidence Isabelle' arises. The street is too narrow to actually see it before being in its proximity. All of a sudden it’s just there, forcing the street into an Y-crossing. The apartment building is the kind of beautiful architectural dissonance one finds throughout Antwerp. It doesn't match with its surrounding, but fits beautifully. In today’s digitally globalized world the concept (or illusion?) of visibility is more dominant and demanding then ever. In my eyes, an organically grown, bricolaged, environment like the Belgian harbor city still cultivates the opposite: a strong sensibility for the unknown and the mysterious through its partly chaotic, partly impractical, but always deeply intriguing urban DNA.
When somewhere last year, we discovered the work of a young Antwerp-based painter named Bendt Eyckermans, a very similar feeling of mystery hit. Who was behind these striking paintings, reminding of some of my favorite magic-realistic artists, yet with an incredible contemporary perspective and subject matter? After connecting through Instagram (bless the digital age too!), Bendt agreed to meet in his studio, which to my surprise is located right there in my favorite neighborhood of the city. [ Continue reading ]
at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp
Last week, we once again had the privilege to witness another highly anticipated (a little more than any other we have seen before) exhibition opening at our favorite museum in Antwerp: the MoMu Fashion Museum. In the new exhibition, for the first time ever, the museum focusses on genius Martin Margiela’s often forgotten Hermès collections that he created from 1997 to 2003. The exhibition also touches beyond his extraordinary work for the Parisian house and furthermore showcases the relationship between these collections and the complete vision he created with Maison Martin Margiela.
Groundbreaking deconstruction and timeless luxury –two worlds that Martin Margiela made his own– therefore are the starting point of the exhibition named 'Margiela, The Hermès Years', uniquely displayed in a "split-vision" Hermès orange/Margiela White scenography, designed by the museum's regular collaborator, but more importantly also Margiela's former trusted scenographer: Bob Verhelst. For anyone looking for a razor sharp yet very emotional insight into where many of today's ideas about fashion and modern luxury still find their core inspiration, we can only urge to travel to Antwerp before the end of August, as this extraordinary exhibition clearly showcases the work of an unparalleled visionary in what for us is already among the best exhibitions of the year. [ Continue reading ]
Unfortunately it took a little longer to share this than we hoped, as it has been some weeks ago that we sat down with British artist John Stezaker when he visited Antwerp for his duo exhibition that closed today at Gallery Sofie Van de Velde, which juxtaposed his collages with the work of Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers. Meeting Stezaker, gave us a highly enlightening conversation, but due to our busy schedule in the following weeks, it took time to prepare the text for sharing. What's particularly striking: the (shameful) fact that we publish the conversation on the very last day of his exhibition in Antwerp, pretty much feels like the perfect metaphor for the complete career of the artist, who started in the 70's, but had to change art for lecturing, as nobody seemed to understand his surreal vision in times of (British) conceptual domination.
At the beginning of this century, Jake Miller of the London-based Approach Gallery changed all this by introducing his work to the world. Stezaker debuted a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2011 and was granted the Deutsche Börse photography prize in 2012, becoming one of the first non-photographing artists to be granted the prize. His work re-examines the various relationships to the photographic image: as documentation of truth, purveyor of memory, and symbol of modern culture. In his collages, Stezaker appropriates images found in books, magazines, and postcards and uses them as ‘readymades’. Through his elegant juxtapositions, Stezaker adopts the content and contexts of the original images to convey his own witty and poignant meanings.
This exhibition might be over, Stezaker's wise words on his surreal imagery will remain relevant long after today, having stimulated many new thoughts in our minds about contemporary visual culture.. [ Continue reading ]
Last Saturday, an inspirational new exhibition opened in Antwerp's current temporary new platform for its creative community named Born in Antwerp. After some of the city's younger creatives were given (literally, in several former warehouses at the former harbor area named Kattendijkdok) space to present their vision, now renown fashion designer Bruno Pieters took the stage to put together an exhibition which explicitly portrays the new direction he has taken in his discipline. Formerly known for his namesake label and three years as menswear designer of HUGO by Hugo Boss, in 2010 he stepped away from it all and took a sabbatical, in which he spent a lot of time traveling through India in search for peace of mind. In January 2012, he returned to make what Oliver Horton in The New York Times described as a “revolutionary” new statement in the fashion world with his new company, Honest By - the world's first 100% transparent company and pioneer in price transparency. Honest By publishes its entire supply chain for every product it creates and translates this into total price transparency.
'(Behind) the Clothes' distills this inspirational new vision of the designer back into the large exhibition space at the Kattendijkdok. With the insightful exhibition, Pieters shows how he not only offers totally ethical, environmentally-friendly designs, but also leads the way in offering 100% transparency to the consumer. There are two parts to the exhibition: ’The Clothes’ and ‘Behind the Clothes’, which combined form a remarkable insightful representation of what the future of fashion should be, and hopefully at least partly will be. [ Continue reading ]
Yoshinori Mizutani at IBASHO Amsterdam
We discovered the Antwerp-based IBASHO gallery as one of the exhibitors of last year's Unseen Photo Fair. During the long weekend in Amsterdam, amongst other work, it showed the incredible 'Tokyo Parrots' series by the very talented Japanese photographer Yoshinori Mizutani, which we were very happy to see in real life for the first time and formed one of the undisputed highlights of the whole festival for us. IBASHO specializes in contemporary photography and next to Mizutani has some very talented photographers in its roster. Despite the other talent Yoshinori Mizutani remains our favorite and on the 7th of April the gallery presents the second solo exhibition of the young Japanese artist. After the successful pop-up show in 2015 at Graanmarkt 13, the work of Mizutani will return in Antwerp with a solo exhibition in the gallery. The exhibition combines images from his earlier popular series 'Tokyo Parrots' and 'Yusurika' with two new series, 'Sakura' and 'Kawau'. In 'Sakura', inspiration of the name of this particular show, Mizutani shows us an unusual and mesmerizing view on one of Japans icons, the cherry blossom. The abstract and graphic black and white photography of the 'Kawau '- Japanese for the cormorant bird - is Mizutani’s second exploration of birds in an urban environment, and forms the perfect grainy black and white counterpart of the pastel colored 'Tokyo Parrots'. We can't wait for this incredible showcase of Mizutani's talent. [ Continue reading ]
Next Friday, one of Belgium's most exciting contemporary designers, part of this year's Wallpaper* Magazine Power List, Michaël Verheyden, will find his way from Genk to Antwerpen, where he will open a temporary store in the beautiful concept boutique Graanmarkt 13. One of our favorite stores in Antwerp also houses an excellent restaurant, an apartment for rent and a gallery which for the occasion will also become part of Verheyden's presence. After Ferry Voorneveld had the honor as a representative of Another Something during the Limblogdesigntour, a month ago, visiting the visionary designer's studio (soon more on that visit), the temporary Antwerp-based store will underline Verheyden's unique vision on design once more, perfectly framed within the excellent environment of Graanmarkt 13. The store will house a beautiful selection of interior objects and design furniture, next to newer work of Verheyden - never shown in Belgium before - which will be for sale in the gallery on the first floor. [ Continue reading ]
Since we discovered it, whenever we visit Antwerp the only address we want to stay is the extraordinary Boulevard Leopold. Owned by the warm hosts Bert Verschueren and Vincent Defontainers, Boulevard Leopold is located in a 19th Century house in the Belgian city, between the Albert Park and the City Park which is right in the Jewish Quarter. The two owners say their aim in the interiors was to create a sense of "forgotten glory", which in our eyes is the exact sentiment Boulevard Leopold evokes. Entering Boulevard Leopold is like entering the house of a libertine nobleman from the 19th Century living in contemporary times, cherishing all his old belongings hinting and long-gone times, completed with modern elements where needed. With three regular rooms for rent and two larger apartments available on longer terms, the bed and breakfast, built in 1890, is a beautiful hybrid of antique and contemporary design. [ Continue reading ]
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The past few days we’ve had a lovely start of 2011 in Antwerp. We’ve had a great time at Boulevard Leopold, a beautiful 19th century house in the centre of the Jewish quarter. If you are planning a visit to Antwerp, be sure you’ll go there. [ Continue reading ]