Museum Night Fever, Brussels

This weekend, get to know the capital’s museums from a slightly different angle. The contemplative quietude that usually characterises the atmosphere in these hallowed halls and corridors will be replaced by amps upon amps of noise from concerts, performances, video screenings and workshops. In what will be the 5th edition of ‘Museum Night Fever’, 24 Brussels museums from Bozar to the Musical Instrument Museum will open their doors until late, granting access to exhibitions ’til the early morning and hosting a big fat variety of events in cooperation with schools, art collectives and youth clubs, all with the intention of promoting Belgium’s finest young talent. There’ll be theatrical performances to take you back to the days of Charles the Fifth, concerts by upcoming Kortrijk indie pop band SX (their single ‘Black Video’ conquered the radio waves last year) and the chance to play some of the best video games from the 80s at Wiels – a night at the museum that will be everything but boring. Bonus extra: free shuttle busses will make sure you get around to all your favourite venues.

3rd March
Galerie du Roi 15 Koningsgalerij – 1000 Brussels

Kurt Ryslavy, Brussels

With the exhibition ‘Nothing is readymade’ Austrian-born, Brussels-dwelling painter-cum-concept artist Kurt Ryslavy explores what it takes to make ends meet as a starving artist, a theme that threads its way through his whole oeuvre. It’s an ironic critique of the globalised contemporary art market, taking a closer look at the vulnerability of the individual artist. His installations, one of which features an ensemble of 10,000 wine receipts printed neatly on a massive wall are a nod his dual existence not only as artist but also a wine seller (and boozer, presumably). The exhibition also includes a number of Ryslavy’s earlier works, ranging from art books to performance videos, an all-round portrait of the world of an all-round artist.

Opening 1st March
Exhibition runs until 29th March
Bozar Centre of Fine Arts, Rue Ravensteinstraat 23 – 1000 Brussels

Brussels Book Fair

‘Sex, books and rock’n roll’ is the theme of this year’s Brussels book fair, where 1.300 publishing houses will present everything from children’s books to poetry. The sex and rock ‘n roll association might not be immediately obvious to some, but just like musicians, writers have always questioned the status quo, fought for liberty, their dreams and their ideas of utopia. And who better embodies this struggle than Marianne Faithfull? Former lover of Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger, she’s a headline-maker whose battles with drug abuse have been well chronicled with a decade-long career as a singer, songwriter and actress. She’ll be there to read excerpts from her book ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’. Plus, there’ll be concerts by David Bartholomé (Sharko-leader, recently gone solo) and Geike (former singer of Hooverphonic) or the exhibition Manga Mania celebrating the 10th anniversary of the cult series Naruto, making sure the BD nerds get their fix.

From 1st to 5th March
Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86c Havenlaan – 1000 Brussels

Marcel Berlanger, Brussels

Constantly oscillating somewhere in the space between abstraction and hyperrealism, Belgian painter Marcel Berlanger toys with the limits of the medium and, at times, with the illusionary character and power of images. His paintings come to life as physical objects that he cuts, covers with holes and sprays. Berlanger’s work derives from his vast knowledge of art history and a reflexive manner of painting whilst skillfully using the visual effects of light, be it natural or artificial.  This is evident in Botanique‘s exhibition ‘REG’, a show that evolves around the geological phenomenon of the desert, a type of wasteland that is especially rough and hostile to life.

From 1st March to 22nd April
Botanique, Rue Royale 236 Koningsstraat – 1210 Brussels

Erin Lawlor, Brussels

The works of England-born painter Erin Lawlor, who’s set up shop in Paris, are characterized by oversized, organic brushstrokes, that swirl and sweep wildly across the canvas. Evoking an intensely powerful energy, Lawlor’s paintings, rather sombre in colour, embody both the unexpected and the determined. The large, slow waves of paint always bear with them the echos of movement, illustrating, as it were, the very act of painting. Lawlor’s big-sized paintings are created on the floor. Wide household brushes are her weapons of choice: ‘It’s almost like doing Thai-chi in the studio’, she once explained in an interview. A captivating show, her art bristles with energy and radiates with peacefulness, all at the same time.

Opening 1st March 18h00-21h00
Exhibition runs until 24th March
Knott Gallery, Boulevard de Barthélémy 20 Barthélémylaan, – 1000 Brussels

Jean Claude Vannier, Brussels

Jean-Claude Vannier, a veritable master of the chanson, mounts the stage again this weekend after a several-year hiatus. Accompanied only by his piano and a few other instrumental toys, he’s here to bestow Brussels with tracks from his latest records. The musical multitalent, who also shines as an arranger and orchestra conductor, can look back on a 40 year career in the music industry, during which time he’s worked with such luminaries as Serge Gainsbourg, and his latest partner in crime is no other than Johnny Depp. Don’t miss the chance to experience a true chanson virtuoso live on stage, followed by an after-party with DJs from the Finders Keepers family, Vannier’s collaborators in 2006 – a rather unlikely combination, we think you’ll agree.

3rd March
Atelier 210, Chaussée Saint-Pierre 210 Sint-Pieterssteenweg – 1040 Brussels

Breakconvention Live & Dr Vinyl, Brussels

For the first time ever, Breakconvention Live and Dr Vinyl Brussels are putting on a one-night music event, a cross-genre mix of live acts all under one roof. Headlining the evening are The Collectable Few from London, who’ve stirred quite a storm of attention since their acclaimed debut single ‘Headstrong’ was released earlier last year. The line-up also includes local acts like Brussels-based electro pop duo, ‘Joy Wellboy‘, due to release their debut album ‘Let’s Make Love Before We Die’ on Doctor Vinyl Records. The night will also feature emerging DJs and bands from Ghent, Brussels and London; six live performances mixed with a series of experimental DJ sets by Dr Vinyl and Acid Blues Club – a flavorful recipe.

3rd March, from 19h30
Beursschouwburg, Rue August Ortsstraat 20-28 – 1000 Brussels

Design Market, Ghent

With a vast selection that includes affordable interior pieces as well as items exclusively aimed at collectors, this enormous vintage market that takes place three times a year offers everything a vintage fan could ever hope to rummage for. This weekend’s edition evolves around the theme ‘Kids’, featuring objects and toys from Belgian and international dealers to fascinate youngsters and their mammies and daddies. Another highlight is the so-called pop-up Expo ‘Hidden Treasures’, showcasing 10 pieces from the Ghent Design Museum’s permanent collection. To top it all off, young interior designers will be dishing out free decoration advice whilst a photo booth invites you for a professional photograph with your newly purchased items. But watch out, your bank balance might start to hurt a little.

3rd and 4th March
ICC Ghent, Citadel Parc 1 – 9000 Ghent

Maarten van Severen, Ghent

Maarten van Severen, who sadly died in 2005, was not only a brilliant designer but also a serious foodie. The exhibition ‘Food and tools for food’ reflects this culinary enthusiasm, not just with a display of Van Severen’s ‘Hybrid Cutlery’, but also by integrating the ritual of eating into the gig. From the menu, may we recommend the designer’s favorite dish: black pudding with apple-sauce, prepared on Sundays by Van Severen’s children and friends, making it a real family affair. Van Severen’s cutlery stands out through the use of rather original materials. His “Hybrid Cutlery” followed a year-long research into kitchen tools from different cultures, and is made out of substances usually associated with space travel or the medical sector. A true feast for the senses.

From 1st to 18th March
Hoet Bekaert Gallery, Rodelijvekensstraat 28 – 9000 Ghent

Kraak Festival, Aalst 

For the 14th time, Ghent-based record label Kraak, which found its own little niche with experimental pop music, is organising a one-day festival of not just music, but that stretches its tentacles to other fun things like film and visual art, providing an eclectic mix of concerts, exhibitions and video screenings. Interestingly, the festival doesn’t just promote Kraak’s own artists but also makes room for foreign acts like Angels in America, a duo from Brooklyn, or Danish indie punk band Girlseeker. From Finnish old school rock (Räjäyttäjät) to Australian audiovisual artists (Sally Golding) and avantgarde jazz musician Roscoe Mitchell – the Kraak festival will please even the fussiest. Make sure to drop by the Sub Rosa booth to get your hands on some fine vintage records.

3rd March
Netwerk, Houtkaai – 9300 Aalst

Hansjoerg Dobliar, Amsterdam

German artist Hansjoerg Dobliar is known for his collages, created using a self-taught, unique procedure that employs reproductions of magazines and newspapers. Instead of just gluing the pieces together, he connects them through his special painting technique with acrylic, gloss and gouache colours, at times leaving the original motif recognisable, at others transforming it into something completely new and unexpected. Playing with systems of geometry and colour, Dobliar’s oeuvre clearly reveals influences from the Bauhaus and Dada movements, as well as of expressionism. His dizzying abstract constructs and multi-layered geometrical structures sit somewhere on the border between reality and fiction, challenging the viewer, to hypnotising effect.

From 25th February to 24th March
Akinci Gallery, Lijnbaansgracht 317 -1017 Amsterdam

Ai Weiwei, Paris

Ai Weiwei is China’s most famous artist today, known not only for his art but also for his political activism. Released on bail since June last year, he is still forbidden from leaving the country. This exhibition highlights the eclecticism and complexity of Ai Weiwei’s oeuvre whilst revealing the connections between his numerous photographs, blog entries, essays and videos, and putting their relationships with each other in context. His art, constantly challenging the authorities and uncovering the harsh realities of today’s China, is always political. The images on display range from his early New York photographs to the search for earthquake survivors and the destruction of his studio. ‘Interlacing’ provides a captivating overview of the life and art of a fascinating man who also helped construct China’s Olympic stadium, the so-called Bird’s Nest, and made 1001 fellow Chinese travel to the Documenta 12 as part of his artwork.

From 21st February to 29th April
Jeu de Paume, Place de la Concorde 1 – 75008 Paris

Starting today our correspondent Marcus Barnes will bring you every week his pick of things to do in London.