This year, contemporary art will bring the new cultural season to life once more. As from September, several large-scale exhibitions are showcasing a varied program. The works of two renowned British artists will be hanging from the Brussels picture rails: the photographer Martin Parr and the legendary painter David Hockney.
With a good dose of poetry and a real sense of humor, museums and art centres will also take their visitors on a journey to the four corners of Europe. In terms of events, contemporary art fairs will regain color and kick off the art season with an emphasis on local artistic talent.
Brussels has established itself as one of the beating hearts of contemporary European art: the appearance of new, high-quality national and international galleries, artists, previews, exhibitions and fairs has contributed to the city’s appeal and bubbling animation over the seasons.
After two years of uncertainty, the autumn’s contemporary art offering has a brand-new palette of themed exhibitions and events. Fuller than ever, the new season’s program is both diverse and enthralling: let’s look at the exhibitions to discover over the next few weeks.
1. Double Bill
MIMA is offering a double bill, with an exhibition for cinema fans. The first part looks back over the scandalous history of the Brussels erotic cinema ABC Studio, through vintage posters and period archives. In the museum’s storeys, the visitor discovers the screen prints of Laurent Durieux, a Brussels artist whose world is inspired by the great film classics, from The Shining to Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Godfather.
Dates: up to 9 January 2022
2. Mécaniques discursives
At the crossroads between engraving and digital creation, Mécaniques discursives is an installation that deploys its graphic and poetic universe on the walls of the exhibition space that hosts it. This protean work that has already existed for 10 years combines the talent of the videographer and plastic artist Yannick Jacquet and the engraver Fred Penelle, with originality. The exhibition will also gather a dozen other works by this mischievous duo.
Dates: from 02 to 26 September 2021
Location: La Vallée
3. Fred Sandback
This autumn, the American Fred Sandback is displaying his fine sculptures at Fondation CAB. Ropes and knitting threads decorate the space with their subtle lines to emphasise the angle of a wall or the depth of the room. In a simple interplay of colourful straight lines that cross and answer each other, the minimalist artist explores the space with a light touch.
Dates: from 07 September 2021 to 26 June 2022
Location: Fondation CAB
4. Chiara Fumai, Poems I Will Never Release, 2007-2017
At La Loge, Poems I Will Never Release traces the fascinating journey of Chiara Fumai, an Italian artist with a strong personality whose works have helped develop the languages of Feminist performance and aesthetics in the 21st century. Summoning bearded women, terrorists, mediums and writers, her installations and performances evoke strong, rebellious and sometimes radical female figures whose destiny has been forgotten too soon by History.
Dates: from 09 September to 13 November 2021
Location: La Loge
5. Marcel Broodthaers: Poèmes industriels, lettres ouvertes
For the new season, WIELS dedicates a brand-new exhibition to the great Belgian poet and artist Marcel Broodthaers. It looks back on an original and still little known series: the Industrial Poems. Between rebus, riddle and slogan, these works created on thermoformed plastic plates question language and play with words and signs without straying from humour or irony.
Dates: from 10 September 2021 to 09 January 2022
6. Hahaha, l’humour dans l’art
Who said art was a serious affair? KANAL is continuing its ‘outside’ programme with an exhibition of paintings from the Pompidou Centre on the theme of humour. Hahaha, l’humour dans l’art, which is set in the ING Art Centre, gives many nods, draws caricatures, creates word plays and thumbs its nose with more than 200 irresistible works. It gathers the most famous troublemakers of contemporary art including Francis Picabia, René Magritte, Wim Delvoye and Marcel Duchamp!
Dates: from 15 September 2021 to 16 January 2022
Location: ING Art Center
7. Martin Parr – “Parrathon”
Fancy a photographic marathon? Visit Hangar for a “Parrathon” in honour of the British photographer Martin Parr. The first retrospective dedicated to the artist in Belgium, it looks back on 40 years of creation and gathers more than 400 documentary images. We see the inimitable style of the photographer where uncompromising perspectives, caustic humour and bright colours reign.
Dates: from 17 September to 18 December 2021
8. David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020
David Hockney: Works from the Tate Collection, 1954-2017
In 1992, David Hockney filled the Bozar picture rails with a memorable exhibition. In 2021, the star painter returns for not one, but two exhibitions in partnership with the Tate and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The first will present some of his iconic works, while the second will put the spotlight on his more recent creations. It’s now or never to stimulate your eyes with the 83-year-old Brit’s vibrant palette, bright tones and pop touch blended with hyperrealism.
Dates: from 08 October 2021 to 23 January 2022
9. Europalia Trains & Tracks
Since they have existed, trains have constantly fascinated artists: symbols of freedom, the embodiment of travel and movement, they also evoke modernity and discovery. With its usual multidisciplinary programme, Europalia celebrates the railway for the European Year of Rail. Artists, dancers, writers, singers and musicians from varied backgrounds explore the moving train around 4 fruitful themes.
Dates: from 14 October 2021 to 15 May 2022
Lieu: throughout Belgium
10. Fabrice Samyn, to see with ellipse
Poetic and sensual, Fabrices Samyn’s art questions reality and plays with our points of reference. More than 70 works, displayed in the Musée Old Masters and Musée Magritte, invite us to question our relationship with time, the sacred and language and draw us into an intimate and spiritual sensory experience.
Dates: from 15 October 2021 to 13 February 2022
Location: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
11. Viewing depot EXH#02
A new exhibition at the Fondation Vanhaerents is always a real event. Two years after Viewing depot, Viewing depot EXH#02 gives another glimpse into the wealth of the family collection. Presented in an original manner, still partially wrapped in their crates which are sometimes used as bases, the works take on a singular dimension. With, among others, Allan McCollum, Bruce Nauman and Dahn Vō.
Dates: various tours with a booking
Location: Vanhaerents art collection
Since 2005, ArtContest has been the benchmark plastic art competition for young artists (Belgian citizens or residents) aged under 35 years. A real showcase, it aims to reveal, follow and support the work of emerging young artists. Within a demanding and stimulating framework, ArtContest facilitates meetings and displays works and artists to the public, and a high-calibre jury.
Dates: from 02 to 26 September 2021
Location: Espace Vanderborgt
13. Brussels Gallery Weekend
Each year in September, the Brussels Gallery Weekend marks the beginning of the art season involving around forty galleries and art spaces. This year, Belgian creators will be honoured in several galleries, as well as in the Generation Brussels exhibition which emphasises the talent of the local youth scene. It will address current themes such as identity, gender and our relationship with the environment.
Dates: from 09 to 12 September 2021
Location: all over the city
14. Brussels Drawing Week
Launched at the initiative of the Art on Paper fair, Brussels Drawing Week enables a very broad Brussels – as well as national and international – audience to (re)discover contemporary drawing, its history, its artists and its practices. Artists in residence, exclusive guided tours, themed exhibitions and conferences will punctuate this intense week of programmes.
Dates: from 14 to 19 September 2021
Location: all over the city
15. Art on Paper
Art on Paper presents a unique panorama of the quality and diversity of contemporary approaches to drawing through the organisation of an international fair dedicated to this practice. In collaboration with Bozar, the Art on Paper fair offers different audiences, both professional and amateur, the opportunity to discover this plurality through the presentation of artists selected by established and emerging Belgian and international galleries.
Dates: from 15 to 19 September 2021
16. Affordable Art Fair
Launched in London twenty years ago, the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) is anchored today in the calendar of contemporary art fairs. Installed in Brussels on the Tour & Taxis site, from 22 to 26 September it hosts 70 Belgian and international galleries representing around 600 emerging or established artists. There’s something for all tastes and budgets!
Dates: from 22 to 26 September 2021
Location: Tour & Taxis