Flanders, home of the arts
M HKA On 20 September 1985, the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA), saw the light of day. Now, 32 years later, it is reborn. This temple to art is opening its unique permanent collection to the world for the very first time. M HKA has tens of works by Jan Fabre, Luc Tuymans, David Claerbout, Panamarenko, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, but they have never been on show to the outside world. Until now, that is: the museum has been redesigned to accommodate this permanent exhibition.
On 27 April the contemporary works will be completely free to view at M HKA, along with temporary exhibitions.
Antwerp has always been an essential arts city for Flanders, Europe and the world. It is where Peter Paul Rubens, one of the greatest artists of all times, lived and worked. Midway through the last century the metropolis became the capital of the avant-garde movement. Wide White Space Gallery was one Europe’s most important galleries at that time.
The M HKA continues the tradition, as do a string of prominent artists. Fabre and Tuymans, both among the top 100 contemporary artists, use the city as their base of operations. Their work has been also included in the M HKA collection, in the museum’s continuation of the time-honoured tradition.
Pieter Bruegel, Jan Van Eyck and Peter Paul Rubens are the founding fathers of Flemish art. The Flemish masters laid the foundations, and many artists, such as René Magritte and Marcel Broodthaerts have built on their work and changed our view of the world.
This heritage remains a source of inspiration for today’s generation. As a young lad Jan Fabre went to the Rubenshuis to copy the master’s works. A real sense of the connection can be felt in Antwerp’s Cathedral of Our Lady. Diagonally across from Rubens’ masterpiece The Descent from the Cross, we see Fabre’s sculpture The Man who Bears the Cross.
Art is deeply rooted in the Flemish soil, just like the region’s famous vegetable, the endive. You can almost taste the very same drive in the Brussels air, because art is blossoming in the capital of Europe. Galleries are springing up everywhere like mushrooms. The American Gladstone Gallery has but one satellite, for example - and it’s in Brussels. And the leading arts fair Independent has alighted here.
This wealth can be appreciated in Brussels’ many art institutes, such as Bozar and Kunstenfestivaldesarts. The Wiels art centre is playing an ever more prominent role too. The centre, which is housed in a magnificent former brewery, is currently celebrating its tenth birthday with an exhibition entitled The Absent Museum.
Story created on April 7, 2017