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Private art collection Galila’s P.O.C. opens its doors to public for summer guided tours
One of the most original and eclectic contemporary art collectors in Belgium is personally conducting visits of her 400-work permanent exhibition Overdose in a limited series of dates over the summer (reservations via the website).
After opening briefly to the public in October 2020 before the pandemic clamped down on the cultural sector, the re-opening of Galila’s P.O.C. heralds a new chapter for the private exhibition space. Presented in the form of a cabinet of curiosities, it offers an eye onto the world and the personal obsessions of its collector.
Self-proclaimed ‘artoholic’ Galila Barzilaï-Hollander (pictured above) follows her own intuitive path when acquiring new works. Although established artists and designers are represented, including familiar Belgian names, she is increasingly drawn to a progressive and younger generation of artists from countries emerging onto the international art market.
Arranged by colour, contrast, theme or simply personal whim, installations and sculpture outnumber paintings. Forming the backbone of her collection, are some 20 themes, including chairs, books, the eye, money and recycling.
The Israeli-born, Brussels-based businesswoman became an influential collector after taking her first tentative entry into the art market at a relatively later age. She bought her first work 16 years ago while seeking solace after the death of her husband; a modest ink on paper work with the word “Why?” written 11,522 times.
As her collection grew, participating in exhibitions convinced her to promote the young artists she was buying. “I had this feeling that the commitment should go beyond buying to taking them out of the crates and giving them some oxygen,” says Galila. “The result is a very beautiful dialogue. I humanise them, and that is how society should be.”
The name of her permanent collection, P.O.C., stands for Passion, Obsession, Collection. “It’s my resumé,” says Galila. “I tried to find a name that was funny and simple, yet with a deep meaning. I would be dishonest if I did not say there was an obsessional part to my collecting.”
Designed to be accessible for all ages, works are deliberately displayed without titles or artist names. “See them through the eyes of a child, focus on what you see and what you enjoy,” she invites visitors. A similar sentiment lies behind the title of the permanent collection, Overdose. “I want people to be overwhelmed. I don’t care if people don’t like it, but they should feel something,” says Galila.
“I wanted it to be very meaningful, without intellectual discourse. It’s like a mezze, you have these little dishes where you taste a little of everything, and if you like one dish more you choose it. You are tasting all my dishes and they are my themes and my collection is a collection of collections, chairs, books, eyes, money and so on.”
Smaller spaces confront weightier topics of religion, human rights, and the Holocaust. “I think I’m free enough to show issues that concern me and I’m concerned with. I don’t have to justify myself,” she says. It’s this careful juxtaposition of exquisite and resonant works, old and new, that characterizes the collection. Describing a painting, she says: “It’s also a trompe l’oeil: There are numerous layers and when you look at it from far away, you see that it’s three-dimensional.”
The former 1950s industrial building had been purchased as a real-estate investment, but underwent major renovation to create a “sober yet simple” space that opened in 2019. The subsequent acquisition of neighbouring properties enabled her to offer locations for educational projects.
While further visits will be proposed in the autumn, the art space is open to groups, including schools and companies. There are further plans for a library and residencies for young curators to further her mission for the collection to interact with the public.
Some works can be seen in other exhibitions in Belgium, including a series of chairs at the Design Museum Brussels (Chaise. Stoel. Chair. Defining Design until 29 August). A key piece, Mademoiselle Amputee (pictured above), by Congolese artist Maurice Mbikayi, is currently on show at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp as part of the exhibition Congoville (until 3 October).
Individual reservations via the website; group reservations on request
Avenue Van Volxem, 295