In 1900, when industrialization has taken hold in Belgium, a group of artists in Ghent reject capitalism and the transience of daily existence. One by one, they leave the city and settle in Sint-Martens-Latem, a nearby village on the Lys. Symbolism in Flanders tells their story. In an environment that is serene, spacious, and spiritual, they create depictions of landscapes and human figures. A dreamy river landscape to disappear into, the strong features of a peasant who looks you straight in the eye, and an elongated, vulnerable figure made of marble. Authentic, refreshing, and unique!
You will see over sixty paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Belgian artists George Minne, Valerius de Saedeleer, and Gustave van de Woestyne. Although the exhibition cannot easily be summed up in one picture, all the works have something in common: they were born of a yearning for greater depth. To get back to nature, the origin, and find inner peace. A theme that is all too resonant today.
Leaving the city
The world we live in is busy-busy-busy, and is changing fast. It was no different in 1900. When industrialization is in full swing in Ghent, dissenting voices emerge. A group of young artists decide to eschew the incessant rumble of industry and the transience of day-to-day existence. They flee the hectic city, for a life in the picturesque village of Sint-Martens-Latem on the Lys. Their strong affinity with nature engenders an atmosphere of spirituality and a deeper perspective, giving them the space and inspiration they need to create art. Although the artists hark back to their predecessors, they see the world through fresh eyes.
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About these idealists
Symbolism in Flanders is about three major artists who were part of that group: George Minne, Valerius de Saedeleer, and Gustave van de Woestyne. The sculptor Minne had already made a name for himself as a symbolist when, in 1899, he went to live in Sint-Martens-Latem. With his serene sculptures and spiritual mindset, he served as an example to others. De Saedeleer was a master at painting landscapes; with his dreamlike and vast panoramas, he made time stand still. Van de Woestyne's paintings are all about people. He documented finely drawn, arresting peasant faces with characteristic facial features, in bold colours. Works by kindred spirits such as writer and poet Karel van de Woestijne and painter Jan Toorop round off the exhibition.
Thuis op je gemak verder lezen? Bij de tentoonstelling verschijnt een catalogus van de hand van gastconservator Piet Boyens, kenner bij uitstek van deze kunstenaarsgroep. De publicatie is te koop bij de (online) boekhandel en Museumshop. Ook leuk om cadeau te doen!