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What’s on this week: 18-24 September

19:46 17/09/2020
The autumn cultural season has burst wide open, despite limitations related to the coronavirus. Always book ahead and check guidelines for all events

One of Brussels’ most popular outdoor events is back: Car Free Sunday takes over the entire capital-region. No one is allowed to drive a motorised or electric vehicle – that includes electric bicycles. So grab your analogue bike or your two feet and head out into the streets, all free of traffic. There are loads of activities to temp you, including Bucolic Brussels, with an open-air bar and talks on sustainable development; youth theatre Bronks’ season opener (“expect ice-cream with ice-cream and more ice-cream”); and concerts and performances at Maison de la Création. Don’t forget your facemask! 19 September, across Brussels

Hear all kinds of jazz fusion at the Saint Jazz Festival, like hip-hop, groove and Creole sounds. Friday night at The Jazz Station is already sold out, but there are still a few tickets left for Saturday night at Botanique. 25-26 September

Heritage Day

Brussels Heritage Day coincides with Car-Free Sunday, which makes it quite convenient to walk or cycle to your favourite monument or architectural gem. This year’s theme is Colour, with a focus on how colour, whether red brick or in intricate mosaics, has been used on and in buildings. Head’s up: All indoor activities must be booked in advance. 19-20 September, across Brussels

Painter Kurt Lewy’s harrowing experience during the Second World War would do much to inform his later work. A Jewish art professor in Essen, he was fired from his university in 1933 and soon fled to Brussels. A few years later, he was arrested by Belgian authorities and sent to an internment camp in southern France. He managed to escape and made his way back to Brussels, where he went into hiding for two years. Eventually captured by the Nazis, he was imprisoned in Mechelen until the end of the war. When he got back to painting, he abandoned the figurative work he had previously done in favour of geometric abstraction. He wanted, he said, to “eliminate the superfluous, the fleeting, the chaotic”. Kurt Lewy: Towards Abstractions should go some way to giving this largely forgotten artist the attention he is due. Until 7 February, Jewish Museum, Rue des Minimes 21

World Clean-Up Day

World Clean-up Day sees millions of people around the globe taking to roads, parks, canals and beaches to clean up the sh*t other people leave behind. Join an initiative or start one yourself right here in Brussels and across Belgium. 19 September

Brussels Philharmonic’s return to the stage following the onset of the coronavirus crisis sold out like hotcakes, but you can still get tickets to their next two shows: A live accompaniment to Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid at Flagey and Haydn: Die Sieben Letzten Worte inside the Basilica. Two very different experiences of the capital’s award-winning orchestra. 18 September 18.30, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix (Ixelles); 25 September 18.30, Basilica, Elisabeth Park (Koekelberg)

Flemish library Muntpunt is closing for a week to switch to a new digital system, but it’s making up for it with a three day book sale. And CDs and DVDs, too. The library in the heart of Brussels notes that it has a particularly good selection of thrillers, travel and art books. Everything costs either €1 or €5, and if you buy five books, you get the sixth one free. Most of Muntpunt’s collection of books is in Dutch, but it carries English fiction as well. 20-22 September, Place de la Monnaie 6


It is estimated that several hundred historic buildings have been damaged or destroyed in Aleppo since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. As the conflict grinds on, it is difficult to quantify what has been lost in the destruction and what can be salvaged. Based on field missions to the city, which resulted in digital and 3D models of several major monuments, the exhibition Aleppo: A 5,000 Year Journey presents both the beauty and devastation of an ancient city’s heritage. Until 31 January, Villa Empain, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67 (Ixelles)

Bozar hosts Ukrainian Spring, a selection of new celebrated cinema from the Ukraine. There are three films at the arts centre, and four others online after that. The event also includes an online meeting with writer, director and activist Oleg Sentsov, who spent several years in a Russian prison on fabricated charges before being released in a prisoner swap. 18-20 September, Rue Ravenstein 23; online 25 September to 4 October

Belgian avant-garde artist Karel Fonteyne turned to fashion photography to make a living, becoming a pioneer in non-conformist shoots within a sector better known for being frivolous. He was a leading figure in the international scene when he gave it up in the 1990s to develop his style in other areas of fine photography. This includes still-lifes of carefully organised objects to a ghostly series in which women cannot conceal a secret within. The Circle celebrates Fonteyne’s 70th birthday with a selection of 200 images spanning a career of 50 years (and counting). Until 24 October, Hangar, Place du Châtelain 18 (Ixelles)

Les 7 péchés du capitalisme


For its 12th edition, Liège’s international art event BIP2020 shifts from museums to two offbeat places in the city. The old Decathlon store in the city centre and the former municipal workshops La Menuiserie are the sites for the biennale that explores photography and images in all their forms. Curators were invited to submit proposals along the theme ‘What is the impact of art?’ Three selected projects see artists from various horizons and nationalities participating in the wide-scale and multi-generational exhibition. 19 September to 25 October, Liège

The show must go on in Antwerp, with Jazz Middelheim hosting a mostly-Belgian line-up this year. There are still many tickets available, sold in daily time slots of 400. Frankly, some festival-goers like it better this way. No jostling for a view of the stage, no long lines for beer. There is much on offer here, including the excellent avant-garde jazz collective Mâäk Quintet (pictured) and Dez Mona, a band whose 17 years have seen them play everything from experimental gospel to jazz-infused pop. Until 27 September, Park den Brandt, Beukenlaan 12, Wilrijk (Antwerp)

Photos, from top: ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA, ©Zinneke/Wikipedia, courtesy, courtesy Boghossian Foundation, ©Les 7 péchés du capitalisme, Envie

Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Sarah Crew