Gallerist Roger Szmulewicz on Antwerp

Roger Szmulewicz owns and runs Gallery Fifty One, one of the country’s leading fine art photography galleries, with two spaces in Antwerp, a a third one soon to open. Born and bred in the heart of the city, he shares with us a list of noteworthy addresses to visit in Antwerp.

I was born and raised in Antwerp and I’ve always lived in the centre. I used to have a dog, so I walked a lot and liked to have my morning coffee in a bar after my walk. Unfortunately, my dog passed away 3 years ago, but I still go for coffee. I either visit Caffe Mundi if I’m going to my gallery located in the Zirkstraat, or Normo, which is close to the third space I am opening at Engelse Beurs 1. For food there is a French place, where you feel the influence of the south of France. It’s called Marche Couvert by Laurent Olives. The interior is very low-key, you don’t feel it’s chic; it’s more of a casual place. There are two other fast food places I like if I have to work late in the gallery, and don’t have much time. One of them is called Balls and Glory, but if you don’t eat meat then you should not go there. They do great meatballs with different fillings. On top of that, you can choose a salad or mashed potatoes to complete your meal, and you can take all of it to go. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. The other fast foodplace I love is Ellis Burger. I don’t think there are many restaurants that can do burgers; the meat there is ok, and the burgers are just the right size. I sometimes go there with friends. Near the MAS is a place that’s been open for a year or two now, which is called Mon. They have a really nice interior and the food is excellent; they specialize in really tasty meat. Ciros is an institution. The restaurant as we know it today has been open since 1962 and the interior remains unchanged since, absolutely nothing has been adapted. If you don’t reserve, you don’t get a table. The way they serve your food, with all the old tableware and so forth, reminds you of dinner at you grandparents or in an old movie, it’s really out of time. It’s funny to see people who have probably been coming there for over 30 years, dining next to artists, a curator, or people from the fashion industry; it’s really a mix of different crowds. Dal Dottore is a place I like very much. I was living not too far from, so it became my kitchen for some time. They have just a few tables and a small menu. The owner is a very nice guy, the restaurant always has the same atmosphere and is filled with loyal customers. The food is not fancy, just good. I just don’t like the idea that I have to reserve four months in advance. Antwerp restaurants are always full, even when there is a crisis.  If it’s Saturday evening and you did not make a reservation, you don’t get a table. L’Epicerie du Cirque is a place I don’t visit very often because you have to reserve, and I am travelling a lot. Au Viex Port is Belgian/French cuisine that has a very nice brasserie-like interior. I would go to the Witzli Poetzli during the weekend, but I don’t have that much time to go to bars anymore, I go more when I am travelling. For parks, there are two I used to go to very often with my dog. One of them is the Brandt. The other one is in front of the Wezenberg swimming pool, called Domein Hertoghe. I went back to the Brandt two weeks ago for the first time since two years. It’s a beautiful park, and now even more so what with the leaves changing colour. There is a castle and some water and if I were a jogger I would definitely go there. I try to do everything and would like to see all that is in the city, but unfortunately I can’t because of a lack of time. I do go often to deSingel though, for dance shows; recently I saw one of the best shows there by a Palestinian choreographer. They also have music, theatre and architecture events and a restaurant, so you can have a nice evening there. I also go to the MHKA, the FoMu and I’m looking forward to seeing the new Museum of Fine Arts which will reopen in 2017 or 2018. We also have institutions like Extra City, which I visited this weekend; I try to see all of the galleries when I can. It’s part of my job to see what is going on. Of course, there is my gallery. I mean, I live 200 meters from the town hall and still people, even people from Antwerp, don’t know where it is because it’s in a very small street. Recollection is a nice shop, but not a place I would go to every week. I go sometimes if I have to find a present for someone. If I had time, I would go to the small, privately owned fish shop to buy fish, to the butcher for meat, and I try to go to the market on Saturday mornings and get fresh vegetables and fruits… there you know already a few people who you can trust to have good food. Sometimes I go to Copyright, it’s a nice bookshop built by architect Vincent van Duysen. The owners are friends and they just located bellow the fashion museum. I like going there to have a look at new books, mostly art books, photography and architecture books. As for newspapers; most of them are in the internet –  I use Arts & Letters Daily. I read a lot and am a bit of a magazines-freak. I used to buy a lot, there is a store not far from here, the International Magazine Store. They have everything, you can stay there for hours… for whatever hobby you have you will find a magazine there. But as I am an image person, I like to walk around and see things, and get ideas, from magazines, newspapers, or anything I see out in the street.

 
Feature image ©Stephan Vanfleteren.
 
 
Gallery Fifty One
Zirkstraat 20 (2000)
Hofstraat 2 (200)
gallery51.com
 
Arts & Letters Daily
aldaily.com
 
Au Vieux Port
Napelsstraat 130 (2000)
 
Balls and Glory
Godefriduskaai 30 (2000)
ballsnglory.be
 
Caffe Mundi
Oude Beurs 24 (2000)
caffemundi.be
 
Ciros
Amerikalei 6 (2000)
ciros.be
 
Copyright Bookshop
Nationalestraat 28 (2000)
copyrightbookshop.be
 
Dal Dottore
Tabakvest 93, 2000
 
Ellis Burger
De Keyserlei 21, 2018
ellisgourmetburger.be
 
Extra City Kunsthal
Eikelstraat 31 (2600)
extracitykunsthal.org
 
International Magazine Store
Melkmarkt 17 (2000)
imstijdschriften.be
 
L’Epicerie du Cirque
Volkstraat 23 (2000)
lepicerieducirque.be
 
Marché Couverts
Lange Koepoortstraat 11 (2000)
marchecouverts.be
 
Mon
Sint-Aldegondiskaai 30 (2000)
monantwerp.com
 
Normo
Minderbroedersrui 30 (2000)
normocoffee.be
 
Den Brandt
Beukenlaan 12 (2020)
kasteel-den-brandt.be
 
De Singel
Desguinlei 25, 2018
desingel.be/en
 
Foto Museum
Waalsekaai 47 (2000)
fotomuseum.be
 
MHKA
Leuvenstraat 32 (2000)
muhka.be
 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Leopold de Waelplaats 2 (2000)
kmska.be
 
The Recollection
Kloosterstraat 54, 2000
therecollection.com
 
Witzli Poetzli
Blauwmoezelstraat 8, 2000