Discover Benelux, Issue 76, April/May 2020

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Discover Benelux  |  Belgium and Luxembourg  |  Top Museums, Galleries and Cultural Hotspots

Fine arts for everyone at Nassau 42 TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: NASSAU 42 FINE ARTS

After a substantial business career, Carine Verbreyt opened Nassau 42 Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2013. The twofold goal of the gallery: to make art more accessible to the layman visitor, and to provide a platform for up-and-coming artists. “The art world can seem quite intimidating, even elitist to many people. I want to change their perspective.” Nassau 42 Fine Arts explicitly aims to welcome visitors who have little prior knowledge of fine arts. “I want people to discover something new when they come in, and I like to help them find their way in the often confusing art world,” explains Verbreyt. “I create my collections based on what visitors like to discover, what is trendy, and what is artistically valuable.” “A lot of artists make incredible work, but struggle to get it displayed. I want to give them a platform. That’s also why I don’t work with a particular set of artists over and over again, like many galleries. I display creations by 40 to 50

different artists each year, who work in all sorts of styles and materials.” Verbreyt keeps her gallery displays harmonious by centring her exhibits around specific themes. In May and June, she will display the work of Antwerp-based Jewish artist Carole Czopp, while the summer months will be dedicated to pop art by the likes of Mat Kemp and Vic Jobé. “I believe art has to be affordable, without compromising on artistic value,” concludes Verbreyt. “That’s the best way to get people to engage with it.”

Find Nassau 42 Fine Arts at Nassaustraat 43 in Antwerp, and online at :

From elegant Chateau to leading art collection TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTO: MUSÉE ROYAL DE MARIEMONT

An hour south of Brussels, the Musée Royal de Mariemont is one of Belgium’s cultural gems. The product of one man’s passion for history, it gathers a collection ranging from Greek and Roman Antiquity to the Far East, while also giving Belgian heritage pride of place. With a collection of some 100,000 pieces, Mariemont ought to be on the list of any culture lover going through Belgium. A world-class institution with a unique history, Mariemont stands on the grounds of the three successive Chateaux, all since destroyed. Its last owner, Raoul Warocqué, used his family’s industrial fortune to further develop Mariemont and fill it with a vast artistic and historical collection, which he passed on to the Belgian state on his death in 1917. On Christmas Day of 1960, the Chateau caught on fire, but the collection was saved thanks to the prompt intervention of the villagers and the Mariemont 22  |  Issue 76  |  April/May 2020

staff. The current Museum, designed by Roger Bastin and reopened in 1975, is a prime example of Brutalist architecture, and still harbours the same ideals of collective culture first exemplified by Raoul Warocqué in his lifetime. Warocqué’s ample collection reflects his wide-ranging interests and expresses his aim to strike a balance between universality and local identity. In the same afternoon, visitors can admire an original Rodin sculpture, a three-metre, five-tonne statue of Cleopatra from Alexandria, and a wealth of Chinese and Japanese art – including a tea pavilion imported from Kyoto, where tea ceremonies are regularly held. But Mariemont also represents Warocqué’s keen interest in Belgian culture, showcasing regional archeology and porcelain among other artefacts. Set in a sumptuous, 45-hectare natural park, poised between scientific excellence and accessibility, Mariemont remains a place of

knowledge and wonder for the aficionado and the casual museum-goer alike. Alongside the permanent collection, Mariemont offers modern, interactive exhibitions, immersing audiences into Ancient Egypt or the Samurai, among others. Until 24 May, 2020, the exhibition Bye

Bye, Future! The Art of Time Travelling will reexamine our past, via contemporary artists, to shed a new light on the future.

Photo: Musée Royal de Mariemont