Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A visit to Brussels

My lovely cousin Sara is registrar at a gallery called Almine Rech, and I have recently vowed that I'll visit her there more often. My main obstacle is that the gallery happens to be in Belgium (along with Sara, her brother Eric & my aunt Elizabeth). So it happens that I see some of my favorite people less than once a year and I see Brussels once a decade if I'm lucky (so far, I am). Until last week, I hadn't seen the gallery even once.
Seeing as how all of Europe is connected by beautiful, clean, fast moving train (ahem, US government. can we get on this public transportation thing?) and very easy to navigate, I couldn't resist sneaking away on a 4 hour trainride to see my family while Phil and I were in Stuttgart, Germany for an animation festival last week. In a tragically short weekend, I got my family fix wandering Brussels via flea markets, cafe's and cheese counters and finally got to visit the gallery- at which hangs a show by German artist Katja Strunz. Strunz's work seems to be both an ode to fabrication and construction AND to the art of the handmade and crafted. I love the combination of the two. Her paintings/collages could be there equally just to be pretty compositions, or as little maps of her larger, more ambitious sculptures. I adore work like this (a category which might possibly contain MOST abstract art, really) because it speaks to a more diverse crowd: One that would like to see deep meaning and intention (and thus feel engaged and worldly amongst paintings and white walls and peers who might afford such things) and one that would simply like to see nice things, occupying space in an interesting and head turning way. A wink toward the act of making, time spending, and space filling in general... as though they are meaningful and meaningless all at once.
After contemplating this for what was admittedly less than a few minutes in person, and touring the offices of Almine Rech, we went home to catch up on the last year of lives spent thousands of miles apart... And being from the section of gallery-goers more inclined to make the art than purchase it - we did this catching up cross legged on a living room rug with little cups of wine and toothpicks for cheese. Our own gala of sorts, full of eagerness to gossip, 30-somethings with important things to say and all in a place ripening with more personal value and meaning each time you visit.

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