New Masereel pavilion blurs boundaries between visitor and artist


Artists and the public will mix in the Frans Masereel Centre’s new star-shaped pavilion in the Kempen

Bright star

The Frans Masereel Centre for print art and graphic design in Kasterlee, Antwerp province, has inaugurated its new pavilion. The star-shaped building, which cost €1.1 million, combines workshops with exhibition space in a design intended to encourage interaction between the artists and the public.

The Centre is the largest artist residence in Belgium. National and international artists are invited to live and work there for between four and eight weeks, while art students are able to visit for shorter periods.

It also organises exhibitions and tours for the public, and has a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of graphic art. The centre is named after Flemish illustrator Frans Masereel, one of the most celebrated woodcut artists of the 20th century.

The new building was designed by architects Hideyuki Nakayama and Ido Avissar, with an interior conceived by Brussels-based architect and painter Jean Glibert. “With the star shape, we step away from a hierarchical structure separating the different printing techniques, so that everything is equal,” the centre’s Sebastian Roth told Gazet van Antwerpen. “And it is also an exhibition space where works can be admired.”

More collaborations

Flemish culture minister Sven Gatz officially opened the pavilion at the weekend. “This pavilion is not only a beautiful building and, thanks to Jean Glibert, a work of art in itself,” said Gatz, “but a meeting point for the centre’s diverse roles: gallery, studio, centre of expertise and magnet for international artists.”

The new exhibition options “make the centre even more appealing,” he continued, “with an design that encourages interaction between audience and artist, and that even blurs that distinction.” In keeping with Masereel’s dedication to pacifist and socialist movements, the new pavilion “highlights the democratic nature of graphic art”.

To date the centre’s work with schools has focused on the local Kempen region. Thanks to the new pavilion, it can now expand to include collaborations with institutions in Geel and Turnout.