With last week’s contemporary art frenzy now behind us, we profile nine forward-thinking Belgian contemporary art non-profits that tilt towards the emerging and experimental.
Netwerk is Aalst’s very own center for contemporary art. The center establishes a dialogue between plastic arts and other disciplines, meaning they pretty much tackle almost every imaginable aspect of culture. Housed in a former textile factory on the banks of the Dender river, the huge, flexible space is perfect to host many different events, from exhibitions and concerts to lectures, residencies, performances and so on. The sheer size of the space allows the team to create flexible, site-specific presentations, allowing artists to present the best version of themselves and their works. And although Aalst might not exactly sound as the most forward-thinking location, the local creative scene is active enough to make Netwerk into a stepping stone of sorts by focusing on embedding their exhibition within the city’s urban fabric, whilst never losing touch of the international context it exists in.15 Houtkaai netwerk-art.be
Marion De Cannière
After several years of running a gallery in the southern part of the city, supporting a range of Belgian and international artists, Marion De Cannière recently relocated to the city center’s Leopoldplaats to open a non-profit art space in October 2015. Her centrally-located space – housed in the same distinctive building as gallery Geukens & De Vil – welcomes independent curators with the aim of showcasing both established and emerging artists, with recent exhibitions including artists such as Christoph Fink, Emilia Ukkonen, Erik Van Lieshout and Kader Attia.12 Leopoldplaats (2000) mariondecanniere.com
Hole of the Fox
Hole Of The Fox is a curatorial concept founded in December 2011 and whose emphasis is on the presentation of groundbreaking work by upcoming artists. Retaining some distance from the traditional gallery space as we have come to know it, Hole of the Fox describes itself as somewhat of a nomadic creature, not necessarily limited to one location, constantly questioning the best way to exhibit the works of the artists it selects. With a firm focus on young blood, the independent exhibition space, located in the city’s Borgerhout district has already shown the works of artists such as Leo Sadler, Shana Teugels, and Tom Volkaert.24 Bloemstraat (2140) holeofthefox.be
105Besme is no ordinary gallery space. Here, founded and curator Tania Nasielski welcomes you in the intimate surroundings of her own apartment, where she shows new works by both young and established artists such as Dan Van Severen, Delphine Deguislage and Emilio Lopez-Menchero. By showing the works in what is a very personal setting, she somehow manages to add a layer of narrative to the works on display, creating a context that’s typical of her space. The pieces tell a story, and all share the same imaginative approach. Little plus point: 105Besme is walking distance from Wiels, Bar du Matin and the Forest park, making it a perfect pit-stop for your Sunday art stroll.Besmelaan 105 Avenue Besme (1190) 105besme.be
Composite – located bang in the city centre, in the flourishing neighbourhood between Dansaert and Sainte-Catherine – is a non-profit art platform, where selected artists get the opportunity to show their works and recent evolutions. The sleek surroundings, uplifted by unique architectural details, provide the perfect backdrop for new, experimental works. With Composite making it a point to offer various artists and approaches, the team invite artists to reflect upon themselves, their works and their process. By proposing different ways of thinking about materiality, they hope to evoke a new way of working, whether based on new materials, new affections or new ideas.Varkensmarkt 10 Rue du Marché aux Porcs (1000) c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e.com
Komplot is not really a gallery, but more a group of like-minded independent curators and artists. Founded in 2002, it is a curatorial collective whose platform for experimental art has constructed a solid reputation for itself as a space where interdisciplinary practices all mingle in perfect harmony. Having recently moved to a new, smaller location in Forest, their highly cerebral approach to art opens possibilities and broadens outlooks. As such, resident curators always look for themes that revolve around the relation between art and its environment: how does art affect social as well as political issues and vice versa. Their experimental take on curating is also reflected in its eclectic programming, with the collective organising a range of difference activities from workshops and debates to films and publications. Without a doubt one of the city’s long-standing defenders of contemporary art at its rawest, most daring form.Vorstsesteenweg 90 Chaussée de Forest (1060) kmplt.be
A project space run by artists Amaury Daurel and Victor Delestre, Deborah Bowmann describes itself as standing “between a brand and an exhibition space and thus embodies a studio and a curatorial practice.” Having recently relocated to Brusselss Saint Gilles neighbourhood following a first season of exhibitions in Amsterdam, the space focuses on developing a new way of thinking in the field of sculpture and design through collaborations with emerging designers and a variety of different art world players. And the final result often is nothing short of innovative, with selected artists asked to contribute objects, giving the space both an exhibition as well as a factory feel.24 avenue Jean Volders (1060) deborahbowmann.com
Opened since May 2015, Numéro 13 isn’t your run-of-the-mill gallery. More of an artist studio that is open to the public every three to four months for exhibitions, Numero 13 was initiated by artists and curators Sophie Graniou and Paul Chazal who settled in Brussels after years spent in Nice, Geneva and the UK. The space, located on the ground floor of what used to be a former furniture restoration atelier, is mostly used to showcase the work of the founders, who live above, as well as that of artists they share artistic sensibilities with. With the focus firmly on the experimental, each exhibition seeks to reflect a given moment in an artist’s thinking process, with an approach that involves no intermediary and sees works go directly from studio to exhibition space and from artist to viewer in an heartbeat.