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What's on this week: 9-15 February
Bozar’s flagship exhibition for spring is less a retrospective than a tribute to the determinedly multidisciplinary nature of pioneering French modernist artist Fernand Léger (1881-1955). Subtitled Beauty is everywhere, the show starts chronologically – from Léger’s humble Normandy background and art studies in Paris, to his gruelling experience as a soldier in the trenches of WWI –before focusing on the various disciplines that characterised his enormous body of work. While Léger’s wartime action led to the pursuit of mechanical art, his lifetime obsession was portraying the realism of an ever-evolving society via contrasting colour, form and line. From the 1920s onwards his work diversified to film, poster art, costume design, sculpture, murals and stained glass windows. Reputed as a Cubist artist, Léger’s wide interests and prolific output, make him on the of most influential avant-garde artists of his generation. His bold use of colour and striking sense of design retain a contemporary resonance. Bozar’s spotlight on Léger’s multi-facetted aspect, reflects its own multidisciplinary identity with the show kicking off the arts centre’s 90th anniversary celebrations this year. The exhibition is a collaboration with the Centre Pompidou-Metz.
9 February-3 June, Bozar. A full programme of activities include a family day on March 11, a film concert L’Inhumaine by Marcel L’Herbier on April 22 and regular guided lunchtime tours and family trails.
Anima, the Brussels Animation Film Festival, is one of the oldest and most prestigious international animation festivals. With more than 400 films and 90 screenings there's something for everyone as well as kids' workshops, a focus on Estonia, a new documentary by Fabrice du Welz and even live concerts.
For the half-term holidays, there's an underground treasure hunt at the Coudenberg for children aged five to eight. The Coudenberg is the former palace of Emperor Charles V and the search is on for the collar of the golden fleece in the underground ruins of the palace. Every child will receive a backpack with the equipment to complete different tasks (treasure map, fancy dress, puzzle, flashlight). Every task will yield a clue that leads to the password that will reveal the location of the treasure chest. Children will receive a little gift at the end of the game. Duration: an hour to 1 hour 30 minutes. Booking required.
It's the third year for Carte de Visite, the city-organised art show for which the entrance requirement is that the artist either live or work in Brussels. With self-taught to professional artists and all levels in between, the show is exuberant fun and eye-opening with more than 300 participants.
9-11 February, free
Comiccon Brussels bills itself as "your annual celebration of geek culture in the heart of Europe". It brings us comics, cosplay, gaming, films, manga, collectibles, anime, TV series, clothing, toys, gadgets and much more plus a dozen celebrity guests including Nichelle Nichols and Dean Cain.
10-11 February, Tour & Taxis
The Belgian Comics Art Museum is opening A Panorama of Chinese Comic Strips this Tuesday. The show is an in-depth look at Chinese comics which come in different genres such as calligraphy, illustrated legends and manga. Supported by the Chinese authorities, the show has been years in the making and it answers some simple questions: What do the Chinese read? Do they read comic strips? Is this art just as popular in Beijing as it is in Brussels?
13 February-9 September
The Espace René Carcan is organising the third edition of René Carcan International Prize for Printmaking. Organised for the first time in 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of the Belgian watercolour artist and engraver René Carcan, the competition has rapidly gained importance with 161 artists from 32 countries participating this year. The prizes will be attributed by the jury at the Bibliotheca Wittockiana on Thursday and visitors will be able to see the works exhibited until 15 May.
This might seem like carrying coals to Newcastle or a very daring act but this weekend it’s Lithuanian Beer Days. The organisers Dynamo Bar de Soif tell us that Lithuanian beers are one of the best kept secrets of Europe and you will be able to taste beers from more than 10 breweries.
9-10 February from 18.00, Chausée d’Alsenberg 130, Saint-Gilles
If you’d like to discover the Creole jazz of Guyana, Réunion, Guadeloupe and Martinique, come downtown to the Café Béguin this Friday evening starting at 20.30.
Place du Samedi 12A, 1000 Brussels
During the winter months, every second Sunday of the month, the Brussels Tourist Tram goes on a four-hour guided architectural tour of Brussels. The old tram that was put into service for the World’s Fair of 1935 leaves at 10.00 from the Tram Museum, visitors should arrive by 9.30. A lunch break is scheduled, bring a picnic if that suits you. Not necessarily appropriate for small children due to the length of the tour. Reservations necessary.
As part of its Festival Afropolitan (February 23-25), Bozar is displaying five illuminated stained glasses by African-American artist Kehinde Wiley. By showing contemporary images of popular US culture, the large-scale works offer an alternative view of African culture. Los Angeles-born Wiley renders his portraits of men, women and children sacred by incorporating them into classic Christianity imagery. It is the first time Wiley’s work has been exhibited in Belgium. Bozar Africaproject manager Kathleen Louw first saw his works in London and then collaborated with the Daniel Templon Gallery in Paris to show them in Brussels, in what is hoped to be an ongoing partnership with the artist. Former US president Barack Obama chose Wiley for his official portrait, which is due to be unveiled at the Smithsonian national Portrait Gallery in Washington on February 12.
7 February-5 May, Bozar
Brussels has been a place where refugees, immigrants and expats alike find their home, and the country has a long tradition of hospitality towards these groups. Until 12 February, the BE.LAND Exhibition, in collaboration with Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaadneren, in the Uccle Library tells the story of several generations of refugees. They will tell the visitors their stories, their experiences and how Belgium has fulfilled its duty of housing refugees and immigrants over the last 65 years. The experience is free for all visitors and will be touring throughout Brussels and Flanders over the coming months.
Tracking the Subject is a one of a kind audiovisual installation that gives its visitors an experience of how undocumented immigrants travel. Based on extensive research, these artists aim to create a subjective counter-narrative on the “migrant crisis” Europe is experiencing today. The exhibition will consist of naturalistic and abstract images accompanied by surround-sound to give a realistic perspective of travelling across state borders.
From 9 February
On 15 February, come out to the farm of Maximilian Park to celebrate Carnival. The party begins at 13.30 with the burning of King Winter. At 14.00, the parade begins and winds through the streets of the district and the celebration ends when the parade stops at the Pôle Nord cultural and sports centre where children are welcomed to a party with free snacks.
Photo: Fernand Léger, Le Cirque Médrano, 1918 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Jacques Faujour/Dist. RMN-GP © SABAM Belgium 2018