February 28, 2014

Jan Hoet, a tribute

On June 13, 2012, I  posted this photo and wrote about Jan Hoet, Belgium's most famous art critic: "... we are talking about national pride and an international celebrity".  At that time, Mr Hoet was working as the curator of the Yinchuan biennial around the theme 'The ego position of the artist'.  

Jan Hoet died in Ghent at the age of 77 and Belgium lost one of its most charismatic, outspoken, passionate, controversial and appreciated, creative and talented art lover and critic. 

His death is covered by many Belgian and international papers. Below is an excerpt from the Bulletin:

"Hoet was a flamboyant and charismatic figure who shook up the local art world time and again. He became the director of Ghent’s contemporary art museum in the 1970s and made headlines when, in the summer of 1986, he invited 51 artists to exhibit works in private homes in the city. He went on to successfully lead the move of the museum into its current landmark site at Citadelpark and give it its name, the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, or SMAK. He opened the new site in 1999 with a boxing match.
“Jan Hoet was driven by art,” said Flemish culture minister Joke Schauvliege. His greatest achievement was to “help to tear down the walls of contemporary art”.  
Hoet was born in Leuven and studied art in Ghent but eventually decided that he wasn’t a good enough painter to pursue it as a career. He studied art history instead and went on to devote his life to advising art organisations and staging exhibitions.
Together with SMAK, which he led until 2003,  Hoet also had a very active international career, including curating Documenta IX in Kassel in 1992 and serving as the artistic director of the MARTa Herford contemporary art museum in Germany for five years. In 2012, Hoet organised the Yinchuan Biennale in northern central China and last year the Middle Gate exhibition in Geel, Antwerp province, where he spent most of his childhood.
Hoet, who is regularly referred to in the Flemish press as the “pope of art”, once told an interviewer: “I don’t know what art is. The art itself has to tell us what it is, not me. I can only sell the ticket to the discovery tour.”
Hoet had suffered from several health problems over the last couple of years, including kidney cancer and two heart attacks. Based on advice from his doctor, he was taking time off from organising an exhibition at the coast at the time of his death. 
“Today we have lost a man that was not only passionate about art but also told us about it in a most inimitible and compelling manner,” said minister-president Kris Peeters this morning in the Flemish Parliament. “He has inspired innumerable Flemings to take an interest in art.”
The city of Ghent is preparing a memorial book for the public to sign. It will be in SMAK museum for a week beginning at 14.00 tomorrow."

February 26, 2014

Carnival and other photo ops

Prince Carnival - steps of the Louvain town hall in February 2013

It is time to get in the mood for the many colorful celebrations and photo opportunities in Belgium. Carnival is approaching and the country gets in a festive mood. A few dates, events...with photos of previous years.

Carnival is celebrated in Binche on March 2, 3 and 4.
Carnival in Aast,  March 2 and 3

Belgium's  famous carnivals are celebrated in Binche and in Aalst.
Binche, South of Brussels,  attracts thousands of visitors annuallyDating back to the 14th century, it is famous for its parade on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) of Gilles  - who are disguised with masks, red - orange costumes and wooden clogs.  They dance on the tunes of drums and brass. Some Gilles wear a hat with ostrich feathers and launch the "orange Gille" (small blood oranges) at the crowd. 
For some, the Gilles are descendants of the Incas who would have appeared in costume at parties hosted by Mary of Hungary in 1549. 

Aalst is located to the Northeast of Brussels, where Carnival is celebrated three days during which the newly elected Prince Carnival rules the city. On Shrove Tuesday, the day of the 'Voil Jeanetten' which means  'Dirty Jennie' or men dressed as women, the burning of the doll marks the beginning of the end of festivities.
Zinneke Parade in Brussels , Saturday 10 May 2014, from 3 pm
The Zinneke Parade dates from 2000 and is a great, surreal and typical Brussels parade through the streets and avenues. The Zinneke Parade gathers inhabitants, associations and schools from the different quarters of Brussels around 1 common project.It takes place every 2 years and these are two pictures of 2012.

....there are plenty more folklore event through summer, like this giants parade at the seaside town of Wenduine/De Haan in July.... the Brussels Ommegang, the wite Moussis from Stevelot, the cats in Ypres (not till 2015) .....
Come and have a look yourself! 

February 22, 2014

Zurbarán, Master of Spain's Golden Age in Bozar

Wonderful exhibition in Brussels' Bozar, dedicated to Zurbarán. As usual, museum policy is such that I have to show you photos of the location, posters and an excerpt from the catalogue... Nevertheless, and I hope I will be pardoned, I provide a glance into the exhibition space itself because I want you to have a quick peek so you can appreciate how well the dark Bozar walls work for Zurbarán  art. 
You'll find an interesting review in the Financial Times: "Now the Bozar arts centre in Brussels is presenting the first dedicated Zurbarán show to be seen in northern Europe for 26 years, posing the question of whether the newly emphasised qualities in this highly distinctive painter counterbalance or complement the religiosity that still overhangs his work".
There are also other extremely interesting things to see in Bozar at the moment, like Belgium's own great  Michaël Borremans. I will be back with him very soon. 

February 21, 2014

Brussels' Bus Stop?

Is it or is it not.. a bus stop, that's the question.
Do you see what I'm talking about because the first person I asked,  doesn't :) !
On Brussels' Sablon.
And the answer is...
Have no idea what the purpose of all the green poles could possibly be

February 19, 2014

Acrobats and magicians.

In Brussels, magicians know which red lights are interesting or long enough to enable them to earn a few cents, like the one on Roosevelt and at the beginning of rue Belliard. I added coca cola on Brouckère and a head seen in Rome for no particular reason,  in other words, just for fun. 

February 16, 2014

Chocolat mousse with ladyfingers

Our guests and I were trying to figure out last night where the real origin of this charlotte au boudoirs lies. For me of course there was no possible doubt as the mousse is made of Belgian chocolate!
But according to a bit of  research the day after, food historians credit the original charlotte as being English: it refers to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. 
In France a Charlotte Russe is made with ladyfingers just like these but is  filled with cream in reference to a French chef who named it after his employer,Czar Alexander I.
I call it Belgian chocolate mousse in a boudoir circle.
Whatever its origins, or whatever you name it... it is sinfully delicious! Should I mention that I had to mobilize my whole family to make it... someone to hold, someone to pour, someone to taste....there must be tricks or special molds to  make the ladyfingers stand up by themselves, etc... If anyone knows, please tell me! 

February 14, 2014

Happy V-day

Happy Valentine's day to all you love birds out there!
... and no, I did not turn the two towels into a heart myself.... someone else did, someone at this absolutely wonderful bed and breakfast in Lecce, Puglia, Italy... if your travels take you that way, consider staying at Mantatelure, see http://www.mantatelure.it/en/
Enjoy your day!

February 11, 2014

From the past

 From time to time I really do like the blurry effect of a hurriedly taken i-phone photo and the above three shots fit that category.... like a spell was cast, taking me back into the past.... 

February 10, 2014

Driving out of the capital

Remember the ride into the capital on that glorious warm and sunny Friday afternoon a few weeks ago?  
Today, I am leaving Brussels on the opposite site, via the European institutions' quarters, seemingly a perpetual construction site.
The footbridge in the second picture connects a building of the Commission with other European buildings,  the statues on both sites are by Jean-Paul Laenen and known as  the "Thread of Ariadne”.
The Cinquentenaire with the arches was commissioned under the governement of Leopold II to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Belgium's independence.
It is  Montgomery himself who is watching over the square with his name while turning his back to drivers as they plunge into the tunnel direction Tervuren.

February 05, 2014

About freedom, income and happiness

Of course the pink writing grabbed my attention. I photographed the wall, not far from my house, in its pre-pink state almost a year ago: http://whatisbelgium.blogspot.be/2013/04/freedom-of-street-art.html.
Today the "happiness" has been added and the other words have changed place.
Philosophy, street art or neither?

February 02, 2014

Brasserie de la Paix in Anderlecht

I did it again! 
I was on the road without my camera!
I thought I would concentrate on dinner and conversation instead of looking around for photo ops.  At the sight of the reflection of the light fixture in the window of Brasserie de la Paix, however, I couldn't help myself and pulled out my telephone for the shot at the top.
Colleague blogger, Filip, describes this restaurant as the meat temple. Indeed, it is located right in front of the Slaughterhouse (L'abattoir) d'Anderlecht, where local butchers and restaurant cooks select the best and freshest cuts in the early mornings. 
The restaurant has a Michelin star.  Its personnel are capable, low key and friendly. They make you feel very much at home in a typically Brussels way of conviviality!
I guess meat lovers go there but, as Filip says and shows (he posted mouthwatering pictures of the degustation menu), if you are a bit more adventurous, you are up for a treat and will be surprised.
http://filipdemuinck-kristelpardon.blogspot.be/2013/02/restaurant-brasserie-la-paix-meat.html http://www.lapaix1892.com/