Jos Van den Bergh

  • Tim Rollins and K.O.S, The Time Machine XII (After H. G. Wells), 2013, matte acrylic, pencil, and book pages on canvas, 72 x 72". Installation view.

    Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

    It’s been more than thirty years since Tim Rollins invited a group of “at-risk” pupils from a South Bronx public school to start an art project with him. They chose the moniker K.O.S. (for Kids of Survival) as a badge of honor. Rollins and the Kids set out to produce art collaboratively through a process they called “jamming,” in reference to a preferred method of jazz musicians. Rollins or one of the Kids would read aloud a carefully chosen passage from a book while the others made free-associative drawings reflecting on what they heard. But this approach, which explored the more ephemeral

  • View of “Glory Hole,” 2013.

    “Glory Hole”

    As a critic, I am normally hesitant to use such words as memorable or exceptional, but when I visited the alternative art venue LLS 387 Ruimte voor Actuele Kunst to see the exhibition “Glory Hole,” these were exactly the words that came to mind. Before visiting, I was skeptical of the show’s premise: The space would supposedly be transformed into a “darkroom”—here the term refers not to a place where film is developed, but a room, like those sometimes found in gay bars or movie theaters, where customers can go to have sex. It seemed like there was a good chance the show would turn out to

  • Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Matrasdrager (The Mattress Porter), 2001, concrete, foam rubber, 82 5/8 x 42 1/8 x 70 7/8".

    Philip Aguirre y Otegui

    Even before entering Mu.ZEE, the museum hosting the latest exhibition of the work of Belgian artist Philip Aguirre y Otegui, the approaching visitor could see the epoxy sculpture Fallen Dictator, 2005, which looked like a knocked-over prop or a showroom dummy behind the building’s ground-floor windows. This association seemed particularly appropriate, given that the building was once a department store; these very same windows formerly showcased the latest fashion trends. But while the windows were designed for commercial promotion, Aguirre’s sculpture is meant to criticize power. It is hard to

  • Dirk Braeckman, Prague # 1b / 2011, black-and-white photograph, 47 1/4 x 70 7/8". Zeno X Gallery.

    Dirk Braeckman

    Recently a Swedish curator told me that he learned a lot about Belgium by looking at Dirk Braeckman’s work. If this is the case, there must be something rotten in the state of Belgium. His dark, gloomy photographs provoke an uncanny feeling. It is almost never clear what it is you see in the gray murk, and if you think you do know, a split second later you’ll start to doubt it. With shows in Leuven and Antwerp and the publication of a vast monograph on his work, Braeckman seemed to be Belgium’s unavoidable artist this autumn. And that’s more than justified, since he is one of the very few who

  • Adrian Ghenie, Dada Room, 2010, mixed media. Installation view.

    Adrian Ghenie

    The absurdities and coincidences of childhood can shape your viewpoint for life. Growing up in Cluj, Romania, Adrian Ghenie was taught to worship the father of the state, Nicolae Ceauşescu. At the age of twelve, Ghenie lived through the “trial” and execution of the man whose photograph hung in every school—a sudden shock that turned the world as he knew it upside down. Meanwhile, his real father worshipped someone totally different. Playing in a rock ’n’ roll band, dressed up as Elvis, Ghenie Sr. paid tribute to the first global pop icon.

    The First International Dada Fair took place in 1920

  • View of “INNERCOMA,” 2010.
    picks September 06, 2010

    Philip Metten

    In late June, what seemed like an object from outer space or a futuristic temple landed in Hasselt, Belgium. The outsize sculpture is, in fact, Philip Metten’s most recent tour de force and his first solo exhibition, “INNERCOMA.” According to the artist, the title is a word that refers to “a state of mind.” So far, hundreds of people have attended screenings, performances, concerts, and other artistic interventions that have turned the museum into a vivid platform for Metten, several other artists, and his friends.

    During the opening celebrations on June 27, there was an outstanding performance

  • Narcisse Tordoir

    Narcisse Tordoir is one of Belgium’s best-kept secrets. Besides having taken a rather unusual artistic route, Tordoir has nurtured several generations of upcoming talent as a teacher and a curator, for instance through the milestone exhibition “Trouble Spot: Painting” at Museum van Hedenaagse kunst Antwerpen and New International Culture Centre in Antwerp, which he cocurated with Luc Tuymans in 1999. With a clever presentation, and mixing renowned names such as Marlene Dumas, John Currin, and Kerry James Marshall with younger artists, the show proved that the medium of painting was and would

  • Chris Burden

    After nearly four decades, Chris Burden is still best known for his early 1970s performances, which continue to influence new generations of artists. Seeing the filmed performance Shoot, 1971, again at the Middelheim Museum, one realized that the raw power of the action remains intact after all these years. The piece marked a radical shift in the relationship between artist and spectator: The audience became accomplices instead of innocent viewers. But most disturbing of all was the filmed performance Velvet Water, 1974, thanks to a contemporary resonance that could not have been imagined at

  • Mathew Cerletty

    Walking through the huge new space of Office Baroque, one became aware of something familiar in the overwhelming European solo debut of Mathew Cerletty’s paintings and drawings. More specifically, it was Roses, 2008, a brilliantly painted depiction of flowers—so beautiful that they seemed to be artificial, giving a feeling of déjà vu. One thinks of the seductive quality of the artist’s earlier works, such as Fagaroo, 2002; Le Saucier, 2003; and the impressively melancholic Trying to Live Beside the Point, 2003. In these pages in 2004, Christopher Bollen acutely noted the impact of such images:

  • Kathe Burkhart

    The world has changed a lot since American artist Kathe Burkhart began her “Liz Taylor” series, 1982–. But the language Burkhart uses hasn’t changed one bit, as one could see in “Women and Children First,” a selection of her paintings, drawings, and photographs. In fact, the oldest work there, Eikel (Conspirator), 1994, is stylistically interchangeable with a more recent painting, Blueballs (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), 2007. It may seem strange that in more than twenty-five years there has been no stylistic evolution—and that this constancy seems to be a defining quality of the artist’s work. Indeed,

  • Smadar Dreyfus

    Along the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan Heights lies the “Shouting Hill.” One side of the hill is controlled by Israel, the other by Syria. Every year during the annual Syrian Mother’s Day celebration, Druze students who live in the Israeli zone yet study in Damascus gather on the Syrian side of the hill, while their mothers wait on the Israeli-controlled side. Using a PA system, sons and daughters exchange greetings with their mothers, who reply by shouting through megaphones. The reason for this arduous communication is that youngsters from the local Druze community are offered

  • Maryam Najd

    Maryam Najd was born in Tehran in 1965 and left Iran at the age of twenty-six to study and live in Antwerp. Just old enough to remember the Islamic Revolution, she grew up in a country beset by tumultuous events, where artistic expression was severely limited. The isolation in which Najd was forced to work had at least one advantage: She could work on her style undisturbed. Her recent show was called “GET GIRL, KILL BADDIES, SAVE PLANET,” and those words appeared in the first painting viewers encountered upon entering the gallery. Superimposed on a portrait of a naive- but harmless-looking young