Archives for Belgium

Dark – Frances Aviva Blane opens new show at de Queeste Art gallery

DARK is the title of British artist Frances Aviva Blane’s new show at de Queeste Art gallery in Belgium although the work, at first sight, seems anything but sombre. Instead of blacks and greys Blane has updated her palette to include oranges, yellows and blues. But these paintings are not joyful or light in any way, and the timing of the show’s opening is important.

Dark, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

The date of the private view is November 11 which is the centenary of Armistice Day of the First World War and the location close to Ypres, where hundreds of thousands perished. Blane acknowledges this, though she feels any painterly response from her would be inadequate and inappropriate. However the new brighter colours she is using  have much to do with violence and shock.

“I wanted to make paintings whose mood alter on inspection. At first glance the bright colours yield joy, but on scrutiny the application of paint and calligraphic marks create unease. It’s interesting to take a beautiful colour like pink  or yellow and make it convey something not so beautiful.”

This is undoubtedly true of “dark”, a harsh yellow bombshell of a painting with churned up paint and a gouged surface. Despite an aspect of cadmium yellows and hot colours it looks sickly and rough, appearing as an afterglow of burnt out light or fire.

9/4, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

Similarly in the orange painting 9/4 the beauty of shining orange is sullied by a mass of scribble and paint drips. It is reminiscent of hospital equipment reading “terminal”. 

No Title, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

I am struck by the economy in this piece and remember Blane saying she wished to be more eloquent and use less paint. She wanted to leave “the tyranny of mess”. Largely her desire is successful and there is an agitation in the brush strokes that is never tempered, especially in painting titled No Title.

The longer I look at No Title the more I understand what she is trying to do. The few black marks on the surface look like the bare bones of  Dark which is painterly and thickly encrusted. I very much like the immediacy and fluency – it feels like a bird in flight and it’s refreshing to see so much untouched linen.

I ask Blane if it was hard to make. She admits candidly, “It wasn’t hard to make but it was very hard to leave it in this state.   I worry when something looks elegant that I’m doing interior design.”

Hospital Frances Avivia BlaneHospital, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

Dirk and Theun Vonckx have curated an exhibition which encompass many aspects of Blane’s painting. It is striking that she switches from minimalism to heavily painted  surfaces which are almost figurative. When I asked her why she has different ways of working she says she’s approaching a problem in different ways, “I don’t always want to speak in one key.”

In one room there are only monochromatic paintings and  for me this is the most powerful. Story, my favourite, is the bleakest landscape possible, a vista of black, with fine lines running nowhere, scrubbed out paint and a foiled perspective. It is reminiscent of an ancient black and white photograph left outside to disintegrate.

by Jane Dale

Dark, an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Frances Aviva Blane is at De Queeste Art Gallery Abele/Watou Belgium from November 11 to December 12, 2018.

Blane’s work can also be seen at the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 at The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool until 18 November 201

S.M.A.K. Gallery in Belgium Shows New Work by Kasper Bosmans

AN exhibition of new work by young Belgian artist, Kasper Bosmans opens at S.M.A.K. in Belgium. The show, entitled Specimen Days highlights his ongoing series of pictorial legend paintings characterized by heraldic-styled motifs. Bosmans’ work is inspired by an enthusiasm for folklore, iconology, nature, art history and global events.

600x400Kasper Bosmans, Legend: Motif, Oil and Silver (detail), gouache and silver paint on poplar wood, 21 cm 28 cm, 2016. Photograph: Posture Editions, Kasper Bosmans, Specimen Days


Bosmans’ findings become a point of departure for new poetic narratives which are incorporated, figuratively in the manner of a story board. His imaginative motifs also re-occur in other areas of his artistic practice. In his work, Little Cherry Virus, the artist draws our attention to the issue of fruit farming in Belgium. The cherry trees, thought to originate from a Japanese species imported to Europe in colonial times, are threatened by a virus that discolours the leaves and reduces the size of cherries.

Bosmans emphasises a potentially tenuous situation not only for farming but also Belgium’s spring tourist industry which is boosted by the abundance of blossom. Bosmans’ fascination for cultural tradition is evident in his sand carpet series, works that merge the historical custom of taking canaries into coal mines with the artistic tradition of European sand painting.

600x400Kasper Bosmans, Legend: Mandorlas: Fontanella, Vanese, Volpedo, Paruzarro, Loreto Aprutino,
Como, Gouache and silver paint on Poplar wood, 21 cm x 28 cm, 2015.
Photograph: Posture Editions, Kasper Bosmans, Specimen Days


by Miranda Charalambous

The exhibition is at  S.M.A.K. until September 4, 2016
S.M.A.K. Jan Hoetplein 1, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Tel: +32 (09) 9 240 7601

Front page image: Kasper Bosmans, Legend: Little Cherry Virus (detail), gouache and silver paint on poplar wood, 21cm x 28cm, 2015. Photograph: Posture Editions, Kasper Bosmans, Specimen Days

Nothing: Latest Book by Artist Frances Aviva Blane Published

FAB USEBazooka (oil/linen, 60cm x 60cm, 2015) by Frances Aviva Blane included in Nothing

NOTHING, a book by London-based artist Frances Aviva Blane, has been published this week. A collection of drawings and paintings – mostly new work which has never been shown before – Nothing has an introductory essay by author Diana Souhami.

Blane is an abstract artist who works in the Expressionist tradition. Her work is currently on show in the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015 and whose drawings were shown last year alongside work by Louise Bourgeois and Francis Bacon in a show entitled Deconstruct at De Queeste Kunstkamers art gallery in Belgium.

FAB book frontFront cover of Nothing by Frances Aviva Blane

Nothing is an assortment of new paintings and drawings mainly made this year by Blane. The book, which is produced to a very high specification, opens flat and also include details of the work. The majority of the work included in Nothing has never been exhibited or published before, apart from a couple of the drawings which were shown in Deconstruct last year.

work on paper, 15 x 21 cm.Black (Acrylic/khadi 15cm x 21cm, 2015) by Frances Aviva Blane

“The book ‘nothing’ is important to me because it’s the first time I have documentation of a group of small paintings. Usually my work is large   and gestural. However in small canvases the marks must be more contained, expressing compressed energy,” Blane says.

“I wanted someone who was not in the art world to write about this   because  their view would be refreshingly different to those of an art critic. Famous biographer Diana Souhami was open and direct in her approach – no art speak.

“Instead she writes the works ‘disconcert’, the heads are of ‘barely discernible form’ and  have ‘expression or no expression’.  Wonderfully economic descriptions.

Interior (acrylic/linen, 60cm x 60cm, 2015) by Frances Aviva Blane

“Having my thoughts in quotes, placed next to the images (which was Diana’s idea) gives a clue to future directions,” Blane continues.

“Memories of the making, and discoveries I made in the process, enable  me to disregard preconceptions and press on. What the hell.”

by Jane Dale

Nothing (Starmount Publishing), retails at £50. It is available by emailing: or

Colour Unleashed – Modern Art in the Low Countries show in The Hague


Mondrian show SS1

 Portret van Dolly, 1909 by Kees van Dongen,

EXPLORING the influence of the French Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, such as Claude Monet, Paul Signac, Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne, on the artists of the Low Countries, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is bringing Dutch and Belgian masters, as well as the French, together for the first time in a new exhibition, Colour Unleashed – Modern Art in the Low Countries 1885-1914 later this year.

Mondrian show SS2Mill in sunlight, 1908, oil on canvas, 114 x 87 cm
by Piet Mondriaan  Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

On show will be work by artists of the Low Countries, such as Leo Gestel, Jan Toorop, Piet Mondrian, James Ensor, Jan Sluijters, Henry van de Velde and Rik Wouters, as well as the French masters Claude Monet, Paul Signac, Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne and so on. Their work will be brought together to examine the interaction between artists from France and the Low Lands so that the viewer can examine and experience the differences and similarities in their paintings. The French artists will be on show in one large exhibition room with all other rooms filled with work by the Dutch and Belgian artists.

This  exhibition has been made possible due partly to the current renovation of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, as a result of which some of the top items in its collection can now travel to other museums around the world. The show is also part of a year of events celebrating the cultural ties between the Netherlands and Flanders.

by Caroline Simpson

Colour Unleashed – Modern Art in the Low Countries 1885-1914 is on show at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag from October 3, 2015 – January 4, 2016

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Stadhouderslaan 41, 2517 HV Den Haag
Tel: 31 (0)70 3381111 email: