Artistic duo from Brussels in the spotlights in Venice


The Belgian artists, Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, received an honourable distinction with their project Mondo Cane at the Venice Biennale 2019.

Once again, it was a great gathering of art lovers. The Venice Biennale, one of the world's greatest and most renowned art events, is where over 90 countries choose one or more artists to decorate their pavilion.

Reactions to the Belgian entry were very positive. It was the unsparing humour in the work of art in particular that convinced the jury to award the makers an honourable distinction. They felt that the Belgian pavilion offered an alternative view of the under-recognised aspects of social relations across Europe. Fictional characters were staged in the form of mechanical puppets based on folkloric stereotypes. In this way, they created two if not more parallel realities.

Harald Thys joked that the distinction was the greatest gift in his entire life … except for his wife. Anne-Claire Schmitz, the curator of the entry representing the French Community in Belgium, is also clearly delighted, certainly because this is the first time in one hundred years of participation that our country has received such recognition. She believes that this exceptional award is a great incentive for all those who worked on the project.

The Golden Lion for the best national pavilion has been awarded to Lithuania for the exhibition Sun & Sea (Marina). And the Nigerian-born, Antwerp-based artist Otobong Nkanga was awarded one of the two special mentions.

From 14 February 2020, Mondo Cane will be exhibited at BOZAR.