16 May 2023 The long Ascension weekend gives the dynamic Antwerp art scene a chance to present itself. From 18 to 21 May, the Antwerp Art Weekend is in its ninth edition. You can visit 75 art spaces, with many exhibitions but also performances, lectures and parties. A selection of eye-catchers.
Extra City is unpacking the first ever solo exhibition in Belgium by Marcin Dudek. The Polish artist will present seven large-scale installations in the former Dominican church in Provinciestraat. In his younger years he was a football hooligan, which thoroughly influenced his work. Regularly, bomber jackets and crowd barriers crop up in his oeuvre, which revolves around group dynamics, showmanship and the structural similarity between religion and football.
From Marcin Dudek's archives. © Extra City
De Studio once again serves as the central festival venue. Anna Laganovska, a Latvian working as a curator in Antwerp, curated the group exhibition 'Flowers at room temperature' there around the theme 'Domesticity'. She selected work by Chantal Akerman, Marianne Berenhaut, Karina Beumer, Tony Cragg and Jean-Luc Vilmouth. There are constant references to the former hotel function of the stately building that houses De Studio.
On 2 May, artist Daan Gielis died of a terrible autoimmune disease. He was only 35 and worked from Antwerp on a fascinating body of work with multimedia and light sculptures. Gielis was given a place of honour in the central exhibition at De Studio. But art lovers can also go to 89 Eugeen Meeusstraat to admire his large light sculpture 'Wilting flowers', for which he based himself on historical prints of tulips from the Museum Plantin-Moretus.
For the fifth time, the Ballroom Project, an initiative of Bart Vanderbiesen of Base-Alpha and Ida Wollens of DMW Gallery, is taking place. They are inviting reputed galleries from Brussels, Rotterdam, Leipzig and London to a curated art fair in Borgerhout's former courthouse at Turnhoutsebaan 92. Each gallery will bring three works, which will be included in an inspiring trail. Participating artists include Carla Arocha-Stéphane Schraenen, Jan Van Imschoot, Laure Prouvost, Denie Put and David Boon.
Keteleer Gallery in Pourbusstraat presents the first solo show in Antwerp of world-renowned German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol (66). Ever since his student days in Hamburg, he was wary of pure abstraction and looked for new forms for the human figure. He cut these out of a single block of soft wood, which he then painted. The sculptures seem spontaneously sketched, unfinished, yet monumental. Executed in bronze, they stand in public places around the world.
Louise Buys is taking part in Art Weekend for the first time with her fledgling gallery The Platform. Normally, her exhibition space is located on the first floor above her parents' VCRB gallery, but for the presentation of the duo show 'Two floors and a door' by Arthur Van de Velde and Alexandra Puscas, she is using the entire building in Burburestraat. The two young artists working in Antwerp explicitly play on space.
In the Brasseurs on the Britselei hangs a large portrait that Bruno Vekemans did of his friend-colleague Willy Tielemans. Tielemans was garçon in the restaurant, but at heart he was a painter with a preference for the existential portrait. Three years ago, Tielemans and Vekemans died shortly after each other. Galerie Verbeeck-Van Dyck on the Eilandje, which represented both artists, is paying a posthumous tribute to the lesser-known Tielemans. It grew into a retrospective featuring paintings from the past 30 years.
Since Koen Fillet took leave of VRT, he spent extra time in his studio. He is showing his new paintings together with work by colleagues Nel Bonte, Laure Forêt, Catharina Dhaen, Henk Delabie and Michel Vaerewyck in three empty middle-class houses in Van Schoonbekestraat 58. As one of the former residents listened to the mysterious name Zé, the group exhibition was christened 'The rooms of Zé'.
For eight years now, Kathy Pedrami, at Verbindingsdok-Westkaai 10, has been running her gallery with a mission. She brings together artists from the Middle East and the diaspora, regardless of their religious and political backgrounds. In the group show 'Woman Life Freedom', she asked her artists to pay tribute to the struggle Iranian women are currently waging for their freedom. At the centre are new paintings by Maryam Nadj, as Kathy Pedrami an Iranian who has lived and worked in Antwerp for many years. She started a series of women's portraits a few years ago, which became especially acute after the recent repressions in Iran.