Major show of contemporary Belgian artists in Shanghai

Summary

Fifteen artists have been chosen to represent the Belgian contemporary art scene in Shanghai’s cutting edge Tank cultural centre

Big in China

An exhibition of works by Belgian artists has opened in the Tank cultural centre in Shanghai. The Wiels art centre in Brussels worked with Tank to select the country’s most emblematic artists.

When considering the 15 artists – from internationally renowned to emerging – as a group, a theme emerged that could be said to be typical of Belgian art. Convex/Concave: Belgian Contemporary Art looks at the notion of subjectivity, or the view of the self.

Convex and concave directions refer to the dualism of subjectivity, symbolising the opposing tendencies of a gaze turned inwards in contemplation and outwards to the rest of the world. This dualism, defining the concept of identity and of the self, is the guiding principle of the exhibition.

“One of the traits that distinguishes the art from the Belgian Low Lands from that of neighbouring art worlds is its meticulous, precise and detailed observation,” said Wiels director Dirk Snauwaert, who curated the exhibition together with Charlotte Friling. “Not of the grand schemes of philosophers or theoreticians, but of the everyday world, which Belgian artists render with an attention to detail that makes the representations almost palpable.”

‘Self-confidence’

All 15 artists featured in the exhibition – including Berlinde De Bruyckere, Michaël Borremans, Luc Tuymans and Edith Dekyndt – received their own room so that a kind of mini-retrospective of each could be organised.

“Through the works, some artists present their self-confidence and self-acceptance and interact with the outer world,” says Qiao Zhibing, founder of Tank Shanghai, “while others convey feelings that are beyond bodily experiences and highly metaphysical. However, both types of works allow the audience to relate physically to them since ultimately they embody the organic inner-outer cycle.”

Tank Shanghai is a non-profit art centre that hosts exhibitions of contemporary artists. Besides a huge exhibition space, it is home to gardens, a plaza, a bookstore, an education centre and a cafe. It is housed inside colossal former oil tankers, which give it its name. Convex/Concave opened today and runs until 12 January.

Photo: “The provider” by Michaël Borremans (detail), 2019, photo by Peter Cox, courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp