An exhibition of Belgian artists in Shanghai

12/11/2019

The exhibition features 15 leading names in Belgian contemporary art and presents each of the artists in their own room, creating a mini-retrospective.

“Convex/Concave: Belgian Contemporary Art” is organised by WIELS, the centre for contemporary art based in Brussels, in partnership with the Tank Shanghai cultural centre. The venue takes its name from the five renovated oil tanks that stand on the site and have now become “culture containers”.

The exhibition's title is inspired by a historical fact regarding Father Verbiest. This Belgian scientist introduced new theories about a convex/concave world to China in the 17th century. But the title also refers to the dualism that can be found in both China and Belgium and which brings together internal contemplation and openness to the outside.

Throughout the exhibition, this contemplation can be found through Francis Alÿs and his paintings of Shanghai and even through Sophie Whettnall, who painted the shadows of non-existent trees on the ground in front of the entrance to the cultural centre. The series of heads by Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter and the works by Jacques Charlier give us an insight into some Belgian humour.

Dirk Snauwaert, the director of WIELS, highlights that the Belgian artists are concerned with details, which makes their paintings almost “tangible”. A trend that they also share with Chinese artists!