What’s on: Art shaped by a turbulent history at Europalia Romania


The Europalia biennial tops our picks of arts and culture this week, while a couple of unique exhibitions have caught our eye – as has a very special concert

Europalia Romania

After five editions dedicated to far-away lands, Belgium’s biennial arts festival Europalia returns to the EU for its 50th anniversary edition. Europalia Romania takes on the ambitious task of showcasing the arts and culture of an Eastern European country continuing to recover from a profoundly turbulent 20th century.

With the loss of territorial control to Soviet occupation, forced labour camps, severe poverty and a violent revolution, social and political events have largely shaped Romanian art movements. The highlight of the expansive programme is a retrospective of work by modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. The festival also includes performing arts, music, cinema and literature. It’s based in Brussels but takes in several cities across the country, including Aalst and Tongeren. 2 October to 2 February, across Belgium

Family Fictions

What does the word “family” mean to you? To most people, it’s still a very heterogeneous definition. But did you know that almost half of all households in the west consist of just one person? The group exhibition Family Fictions in Antwerp questions whether the term “family” still suffices to describe our contemporary forms of relationships. Until 8 December, Kunsthal Extra City, Eikelstraat 25, Berchem (Antwerp)

Diatoms: Art in a Box of Nature

We talk a lot about trees and rainforests, but did you know that algae produces 20% of the world’s oxygen? Diatoms are single-celled algae that cannot be seen with the human eye, but they are not only the first link in the food chain, they produce atmospheric CO2 through photosynthesis. Learn all about it at the exhibition Diatoms: Art in a Box of Nature, a mix of science and art, in which artists created works inspired by these fascinating lifeforms. Until 1 December, Meise Botanical Garden, Nieuwelaan 38, Meise (Flemish Brabant)

Get tickets now: An Evening with Randy Newman

Tickets to this show sold out so fast that De Roma added a second night. It’s quite a ways off, but you’d be wise to book now for that date if you want to see the American singer-songwriting legend. Known the world over for an endless number of hits that he either sang himself or wrote for other bands – like “Mama Told Me Not to Come”, “I Love LA” and “Short People” – his post-1990 work consists largely of songs and soundtracks for movies, TV and musical theatre. The list of his Emmy and Academy Award nominations is a mile long and includes the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story and “Down in New Orleans” from The Princess and the Frog. This should prove to be one of the most entertaining concerts of next year. 18 June 2020 20.00, De Roma, Turnhoutsebaan 329, Borgerhout (Antwerp)


Photos, from top: Brancusi Constantin, Muse endormie, 1910 ©Centre Pompidou / MNAM-CCI / Dist.RMN-Grand Palais / Adam Rzepka / Sabam Belgium 2019, courtesy Kunsthal Extra City, courtesy Meise Botanical Garden / courtesy Randy Newman