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Fantastic Art in Belgium

Looking into the history of fantastic expression


Even if they are the product of imagination, as the imageries are depicted super-realistically, you feel that they may be real…the paintings and sculptures presented at “Fantastic Art in Belgium” exhibition are rich with such realistic energy.

02The roots of Belgium’s fantastic art dates back to the 16th century painter Hieronymus Bosch. He created bizarre-looking monsters wriggling in the hell; with the bodies that are mixtures of parts of different creatures. The monsters painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, regarded as the successor of Bosch, are also frightening yet somewhat humorous as well.

The science and industry improved significantly as the 19th century arrived, but the darkness within humans never disappear. Fernand Khnopff, the leading artist of Symbolism movement, and James Ensor, who repeatedly painted skulls and masks, turned their backs to the bright modern world and attempted to go further into the world of imagination and dream. In the early 20th century, Magritte and Delvaux emerged from the surrealist movement, which became a world-wide phenomenon. After the World War II, artists such as Jan Fabre, who creates fantasy-like imageries taking motifs from religious paintings from Middle Ages and historical events, continue to develop the tradition of fantastical art in the country.

Until its independence in 1830, Belgium had been under the rule of neighboring states; as the result, three languages are used as the official languages in Belgium. Perhaps, the rich imaginative force of the Belgian artists, which sometimes surpass the Christian iconography, comes from the country’s particular historical background.

(Text: Naoko Aono)

Fantastic Art in Belgium
Dates: July 15th (Sat) – September 24th (Sun), 2017
Venue: The Bunkamura Museum of Art 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (-21:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, entrance closes 30 minutes before the closing time) Closed on July 18th (Tue) and August 22nd (Tue)
Admission: 1,500 yen
Inquiry: tel. 03-5777-8600 (Hello Dial)

Workshop of Hieronymus Bosch,《Tondal’s Vision》, Oil on panel, c. 1490-1500,  Fundación Lázaro Gardiano, © Fundación Lázaro Galdiano

James Ensor,《Ensor at the Harmonium》, 1933, Oil on canvas, Menard Art Museum, Komaki, Japan


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