We Love Brussels Column

Here is a selection of recent articles from my column on We Love Brussels portal:

Breugel – great talent, died too young

Pieter Breugel
Beyond Breugel – Brussels

This year in Brussels we have a unique chance to dive into works of Pieter Breugel the Elder. At the occasion of the 450th anniversary of his death, we can visit wonderful exhibitions and events. You may find the program of all of them at flemishmasters.com.

I didn’t know that Pieter Bruegel the Elder died so young at the age of – most probably – 45. He was active as an artist for 18 years and there are only about 40 paintings, 60 drawings, and 80 prints known to be by his hand.

Aren’t you curious what happened that he died so young? I tried to find an answer and spent quite some time in the internet. Surprisingly, I found none. During my visit to The World of Breugel in Black and White at KBR, excellent audio-guide gave a little fact, which may be a good food for speculation. Allegedly he told his wife before his death to burn some drawings, perhaps designs for prints, carrying inscriptions “which were too sharp or sarcastic…either out of remorse or for fear that she might come to harm or in some way be held responsible for them”. Apparently they might have been politically or doctrinally provocative. If anyone knows more about circumstances of his death, please share!

Most of the sources also state that he was born in Breda, the Netherlands sometime between 1525 – 1530. However, as I was investigating a history of his death, I also found one source which said it was actually not sure if it wasn’t Belgian city of Bree, which in Latin is called Breda.

Brussels and Bruegel are inextricably linked. The most important part of his short life took place in here and he is buried in Church of Notre Dame de la Chapelle.

Here are some photos made during my visit to Beyond Breugel, immersive experience at the Palais de la Dynastie and The World of Breugel in Black and White at KBR. Both highly recommended!

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Art & Wine at Rivoli


Thank God, the Rivoli building in Brussels has not became just one more shopping center! Now, you may stroll through this modern space admiring pieces of art, not items on sale.

The building has been renovated by young, open-minded architects in 2013, to become something to behold. My trip to Le Rivoli in Uccle was worth every minute spent in traffic.

I have started at Anouch Pasques‘ vernissage and moved along the corridor to discover wonderful paintings, sculptures and installations.

Anouch Pasques

There are 18 galleries and exhibition spaces, and frankly speaking just one morning was not enough to fully explore all the galleries.

At the next occasion, when there is a vernissage at the Rivoli, I would strongly recommend to book enough time and be ready to not drive back home yourself – there will be lots of free wine!

Check upcoming events at Rivoli Brussels.

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Antoine Wiertz – a charlatan, curiosum, genius

Antoine Wiertz Museum, Brussels

My visit to Wiertz Museum on the occasion of Museum Nocturnes in Brussels, was quite an unusual experience.

Antoine Wiertz started with a success as a winner of Prix du Rome in 1832 and then things went wrong. Charles Baudelaire described him as ‘…that infamous poseur, […] a charlatan, idiot, thief […] who does not know how to draw and whose stupidity is as massive as his giants’. (source)


But, here comes the genius part. The artist invented specific business model, to put it in modern terms.

He realized his dream to turn his studio into a museum with significant help from Belgian authorities. The State bought a piece of land and funded the construction of a huge hall to accommodate the painter’s monumental works.

This way, on top of free accommodation, he was not forced to not sell his work and made himself immune to any contemporary art criticism.

In exchange, Wiertz donated all his works to the Belgian State, under condition that he remains in his studio, both during and after his lifetime. However his stay in the museum after his lifetime is only metaphorical. His remains were embalmed and buried in a vault in the municipal cemetery of Ixelles.

Thanks to the farsighted artist, 170 years later, open-minded society like us, may appreciate his great horror and death obsessed creations.

From a practical point of view, you may be happy to know that entry to the museum is always free.


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