Cy Twombly, Brussels

Courtesy of Bozar

When American Cy Twombly died last year, the world lost one of its most influential geniuses. Twombly made a name for himself with big-sized abstract paintings influenced by calligraphic and graffiti styles, working closely with Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns (whose creations you can still catch until 11th February in Oudenburg). But a new Bozar exhibition presents a lesser-known facet of his art: photography. The 100 images on show, handpicked by the artist himself, feature temples to tulips, lemon leaves to landscapes, and keep the viewer’s attention drawn to the extra-special texture of the shots, achieved through Twombly’s own personal and inimitable manner of developing. All the images are enlarged dryprints taken with a polaroid, adding a dreamy and poetic note, while blurring the line between painting and photography.

Until 29th April
Bozar Centre of Fine Arts, Rue Ravensteinstraat 23 – 1000 Brussels

Azari & III, Brussels

This electro four-piece of Canadians first joined forces in 2008 and fraternised with bands like Cut Copy or Friendly Fires. They no doubt have a thing for the early days of Chicago House. Their debut album ‘Hungry for the Power’, released last year, skillfully combines vintage house and neo-disco. The tracks on Azari & III are full of groove and throbbing bass lines and topped off with Cedric‘s androgynous voice, all conspiringly formulated to keep up up, all through the long and sweaty night.

12th February
Botanique, Rue Royale 236 Koningsstraat – 1210 Brussels

Chantal Akerman, Antwerp

Akerman‘s best known feature film ‘Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles’ is widely considered a feminist masterpiece and landmark in cinematic history. Since the film, this Paris-based Belgian artist has become one of the most relevant film directors of her generation, her multi-faceted oeuvre ranging from video essays and installations to experimental documentaries. The exhibition “Too Far, Too Close”, the first of its kind on Akerman’s home turf, looks back on a career of forty years with a special focus on her video installations while exposing the recurrent themes of her work: gender, identity, biography and memory, as well as the conviction that the personal is political and the political personal. A shining example of the ever-growing integration of film and visual arts, this is a must for every self-respecting cineaste.

From 10th February to 10th June
M HKA, Leuvenstraat 32 – 2000 Antwerp

Naoto Kawahara, Antwerp

Influenced by his Japanese roots and his years spent in Florence, Tokyo-based artist Kawahara combines Japanese traditions with Western visual vocabulary in his intriguing, sensual paintings. His works, whose jump-off points are usually a polaroid of a painting, in one way or another always hark back to classical pieces from the old European masters. Degas, Magritte, Balthus,… are all major sources of inspiration for Kawahara, who considers the classical European nude to be the ultimate embodiment of timeless art. With a recognisable and ever-captivating visual language revealing his refined craftsmanship, the artist stages old works with Japanese models, reinforcing their timelessness in monochrome. This exhibition shows off a selection of some of his newest artworks.

Until 10th March
Zeno X Gallery, Leopold De Waelplaats 16 – 2000 Antwerp

Jedi Mind Tricks, Ghent

Hip-hop veterans Jedi Mind Tricks can already look back on a satisfying 15 year career. The crew from Philly has always managed to position itself outside the mainstream with their uncompromising, raw and, at times, provocative rap. This time joined by Los Angeles-based Dilated Peoples, a group that has also been hanging around for more than a decade and are celebrated for their special mix of comedy and activism. This gig promises to be old school hip-hop at its absolute best.

13th February
Vooruit, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23, 9000 Ghent

Designs of the Year 2012, London

Every year, London’s Design Museum dishes out awards for the most innovative and original design ideas they can find. The so-called Oscars of the design world are grouped into seven categories, ranging from architecture, fashion and furniture to graphics, digital, transport and product. From February on, this expo showcases the work of participants from all corners of the globe. Last year’s winner was British designer Samuel Wilkinson who created the unique low-energy light bulb Plumen 001, skillfully combining aesthetics and eco-awareness. You are invited to take a fresh look at design. Its guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

From 8th February to 15th July
Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames – London SE1 2YD

Lucian Freud, London

Friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children, … Lucian Freud painted them all, creating an eclectic and heterogeneous pile of portraits. This exhibition is the first solely dedicated to Freud’s portraiture, bringing together more than 100 paintings, etchings and drawings. Covering seven decades of work from the early 1940s until Freud’s death last July, the selection reveals how his style developed over time. Shortlisted for the Turner Prize, labelled the most outstanding British artist of his time, and grandson of Sigmund Freud, he painted people how they happen to be, regardless of their status and without any attempt at idealisation. Sitters ranged from random acquaintances to his mother to fashion icon Kate Moss, and even the Queen.

From 9th February to 27th May
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place – London WC2H 0HE

David Hockney, London

© David Hockney, Photography Jonathan Wilkinson

Internationally celebrated British artist David Hockney, one of the most influential figures in the pop art movement of the 1960s and especially known for his colour-vibrant, true-to-life swimming pool series, now reveals a completely different side: his fascination with nature. The Royal Academy of Arts’ exhibition ‘A Bigger Picture’ takes up Hockney’s long history of landscape painting, unveiling his approaches to depicting nature and covering a 50 year period – from his famous characterisations of the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon to the East Yorkshire landscapes created after he had moved back home region a few years ago. Also on show: a selection of photo collages and drawings that Hockney, embracing new technologies, made with his iPhone and iPad. It’s worth a trip to the island.

Until 9th April
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly – London W1J 0BD