Is Brussels the new Berlin? You’d think so considering the crowds pouring in to view Painting After Postmodernism, the mega show curated by eminent American Art Historian Barbara Rose, and organized by the Roberto Polo Gallery in collaboration with the City of Brussels and Cinéma Galleries. This rich visual installation, consisting of over 250 paintings by 8 American and 8 Belgian artists is “devoted to defining new modes of painting that reconstitute, rather than deconstruct the elements of painting in fresh new syntheses free of dogma and theory,” according to Rose. Collaborating with noted Belgian collector and gallerist Roberto Polo, Rose filled 6 floors of the historic Vanderborght building, a monument of modernist architecture. In The Underground of the Cinéma Galeries, several art films produced and directed by Rose in the 60’s and 70’s on painting in America are simultaneously playing.
Representing the USA are Walter Darby Bannard, Karen Gunderson, Martin Kline, Melissa Kretschmer, Lois Lane, Paul Manes, Ed Moses and Larry Poons. Both Bannard and Moses have high profile Manhattan shows this fall, and Poons is being scheduled for a retrospective. The Belgians, Mil Ceulemans, Joris Ghekiere, Bernard Gilbert, Marc Maet, Werner Mannaers, Xavier Noiret-Thomé, Bart Vandevijvere and Jan Vanriet are also becoming more internationally known as an influx of galleries are currently opening in Belgium, which is experiencing a second art Renaissance, and suddenly in competition with Berlin as a modern art mecca.
The show is meant to prove that when Duchamp declared that painting was dead in 1918, he was wrong. And so were the politically radical 1960s and 1970s when the avant-garde was defined as conceptual art, video, mixed media and installations. All the works in the Brussels show, whether figurative or abstract, are created by individual artists with personal styles, not marketable brands. Their images are produced by the process of painting, not through reproduction. The painterliness of these works go beyond Postmodernism to retrieve the fullness of painting as a major art ; including its tactility, explicitly material surface, and capacity for metaphor.
Painting After Postmodernism, PAP, will be at the Vanderborght until November 13th; it visually dispels the myth that painting is dead.