This year, VISITFLANDERS will be exhibiting on Stand EU1550 at London. The focus will very much be on its three-year programme Flemish Masters 2018-20. To complement and inform the industry about this major programme, VISITFLANDERS will be launching a new module about the Flemish Masters on its updated and more responsive e-learning platform, featuring its major cities as well as Brussels and the Flanders Fields area. The region will also be home to a host of other openings and festivals in 2018 which will appeal to a wider audience.
Centrepiece to the start of the Flemish Masters will be the launch of Baroque Antwerp in June 2018. Now a cosmopolitan city famed for its style, it was voted one of 2018’s “Best in Travel” top 10 best city destinations by Lonely Planet. Today, the city proudly boasts a proud reputation for fine art and culture. Baroque Antwerp will celebrate one of its most influential residents, the painter, Peter Paul Rubens and draw upon his lasting legacy on the city. After an opening event in June, the city will host a number of special exhibitions celebrating Rubens’ influences. The headlining exhibition “Michaelina”, takes place in the MAS Museum and will be devoted to Michaelina Wautier, a rare female Renaissance artist, who is still considered to be an artist ahead of her time.
Also opening at the same time is “Sanguine” which will draw comparisons of Baroque art with that of celebrated modern art by contemporary resident, Luc Tuymans, at the city’s M KHA Museum. In the run-up to Antwerp Baroque, ten special masterpieces will be added to the Rubens House collection. Representatives from Antwerp and the Flemish Master’s programme will be present at WTM to promote these themes, exhibitions and opportunities for the travel trade industry.
Following on from its 2015 success, next year, Bruges will host another instalment of its Triennial festival from 5 May to 16 September. Artists and architects from around the world are invited to construct a contemporary art trail around the city with a specific theme in mind. Next year, that theme is Liquid City and will demonstrate how the city operates as an open and involved cultural hub. The individual works commissioned will be designed around the city, using a number of key focal points to demonstrate their attributes. The festival is free to visit and provides a unique way of exploring lesser known as well as iconic landmarks in a way which transcends language and cultural barriers.
Elsewhere in Flanders the town of Oudenaarde in East Flanders, will be hosting a special retrospective exhibition displaying the unique works of Adriaen Brouwer from 15 September- 16 December 2018. This Flemish master, a contemporary of Rubens, was famous for capturing 16th century tradition in his portrayal of old medieval landscapes which also depicted the region’s centuries old tradition of typical beer and regional food consumption. Little has changed in respect of both the landscapes and enjoyment of food and drink in modern Flanders, and the exhibition offers a rare chance to explore the heritage of one of Flanders’ most celebrated artists. The city of Oudenaarde will be represented at WTM to explain more.
Other exciting events to look forward to in Flanders for 2018 include the reopening of a number of existing museums in and around Flanders and Brussels. The much-anticipated diamond Museum DIVA in Antwerp opens in May as well as the Africa Museum in Brussels in June. The newly opened museum will house a brand new fine dining restaurant as well as the complete renovation of its former building, which will be carefully restored to its former glory whilst catering to the needs of a modern museum. The city of Mechelen, also present at WTM will be looking forward to the reopening of their city museum Hof van Busleyden in March 2018. Home of the Burgundian Court from the 16th Century, the new museum is more than just a collection of cultural objects. It will also provide a focal point for tracing and comparing Burgundian influences in today’s culture. Ostend will also looking forward to the opening of a new visitor centre in 2018 and was the birthplace of world-renowned painter James Ensor for whom the city was a great inspiration. Ensor House, his home and now a museum looks forward to a renovation from November 2017 with its opening in late 2018. Mu.Zee, the Art Museum by the Sea, introduces a superb new collection featuring works by James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert, who is also connected to the city, in its brand–new wing.
Next year of course, marks the end of the Centenary of the First World War and the region is gearing itself to pay a fitting homage to this major milestone in history. In April 2018, a major new land art installation by the organisation Coming War Remember Me will be inaugurated in Palinbeek Provincial Park at Flanders Fields as a symbol of peace transcending both time and geographical borders. Over the course of four years, a collection of 600,000 statues, each representing a victim of the war, will be on display together with two large works of art by artist Koen Vanmechelen. Its vast size and scale will represent and remind visitors of the loss and of the Great War as well as paying tribute to them.
To find out more about what is taking place in 2018, visitors are encouraged to visit the VISITFLANDERS stand at EU1550