On Sunday we went on an art school field trip to Ghent where we visited three different exhibitions. Keeping the short attention span of the general public in mind, including myself I’m afraid, I am going to distribute the events of the day over three posts.

Stop 1: The SMAK (museum of contemporary art)

The relation between the people of Ghent and the Dukes of Burgundy was always a difficult one, but I suppose they have calmed down now and suits of armour and cannons were not in order for this trip. Instead, I took e-versions of Burgundian history books with me to read on the bus.

Our first stop was the SMAK. The SMAK is a bit like the M: huge white spaces with not a lot in them. Last time I was there was for the Gerhard Richter exhibition. This time the featured artist was Raoul De Keyser (1930-2012). The best room was the first with the colourful semi-abstract paintings of everyday objects.

Gampelaere omgeving – 1967 (image from the museum’s site)

The other works were mostly abstract. Ensued a vivid discussion in our group about the meaning of art and the value of this particular artist. Some loved it, others thought it was rubbish, and the usual ‘toddlers can do better’ cliché was uttered (which is not always an invalid argument, lol). Somebody said you need to know the context and read the plaques but if one needs a plaque to appreciate a work of art, the purpose is lost, imho.

The next one is not by Raoul but by another artist in one of the rooms with the fixed collection. Venus of the anthropocene by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Not sure if this is a relative of Liam Neeson.