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Things to do in Belgium this week: photography and painting in Brussels, indie rock in Liège, and so much more. See you there!

Last days: Robert Mapplethorpe at Charles Riva

Runs until Saturday, 28 February Brussels

Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith

Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith

American photography icon Robert Mapplethorpe who died back in 1989 from complications arising from AIDS is mainly known for his highly stylized black and white photography picturing flower still lifes, celebrity portraits and statuesque nudes. He first made a name for himself in the late 60s with his controversial to images of the New York sadomasochistic homosexual scene, when he was still using a Polaroid camera. With “Photographs and Polaroids” collector Charles Riva now exhibits a compelling ensemble of works touching upon different phases of Mapplethorpe’s fascinating and influential practice, including his prominent relationship with rock queen Patti Smith whose record “Horses” he shot the cover photo for.

Opening: Alice Neel at Xavier Hufkens

Thursday, 26 February Brussels

Alice Neel in her studio

Alice Neel in her studio

It’s a Belgian debut for American figurative painter Alice Neel (1900-1984), whose captivating works will be on show at Brussels’ Xavier Hufkens from Thursday onwards. While Neel is today considered as one of the most significant figurative painters in the world, her art was sadly not as appreciated during her lifetime. Portrait painting and social realism didn’t fit into the decades marked by pop art, minimalism and abstract expressionism. The must-see exhibition showcases timeless, spellbinding paintings and drawings from all periods of the artist’s career, revealing Neel’s deep interest in people’s struggles, what she called the “rat race of New York” and those at the fringes of society.

Opening: “Give A Man A Mask And He Will Tell You The Truth” Oscar Wilde at Rodolphe Janssen

Thursday, 26 February, 18-21h00 Brussels

The prominent saying “Give A Man A Mask And He Will Tell You The Truth” by Irish writer Oscar Wilde gives name to the exhibition opening at Brussels’ Rodolphe Janssen Gallery this Thursday. Not much is revealed about its theme, but the names of the featured artists speak for themselves: Diane Arbus, James Ensor, Cindy Sherman, Roger Ballen, Walter Swennen and many more. Not to miss, obviously. 

Opening: Ruth Sacks at These Things Take Time

Thursday, 26 February, 19-00h00 Ghent

The solo exhibition “Open Endings” opens this Thursday at Ghent alternative art space These Things Take Time, presenting a selection of works by South-African artist Ruth Sacks, whose fascinating practice brings together installations, text pieces and performances and examines contemporary environments. In this show, Sacks explores the complicated relationship between modernism and colonialism by referencing the Belgian Art Nouveau movement as well as colonial and postcolonial Congolese design.

Birthday bash: BarBeton turns 3

From 26 February to 1 March Brussels

When it comes to reviving Brussels neighborhoods, Fred Nicolay is somewhat of an institution. He’s the creative mind behind some of the capital’s most popular bars from Café Belga and Walvis to Potemkine and Flamingo. One of his babies is turning three this week, the both stylish and cozy BarBeton in the Dansaert area, characterized by untreated wood and a gorgeous concrete bar referencing a reception desk by Le Corbusier. There are three days of birthday celebrations awaiting you, featuring a free tapas buffet, gin tonics for 5€ only and music by Dr Know, DJ Pi and others.

Night out: Indie rock at Studio 22

Thursday, 16 February, 18h00 Liège

Studio 22

Studio 22

Free tapas, a brand new Belgian beer from a Liège-based microbrewery and lots of dancy indie rock tunes – a mix which promises a great night at Studio 22, one of the Wallonian city’s main cultural platforms. You’ll be able to try the newly launched Curtius beer, thought up by two Belgian twenty-somethings, for just 1€ and behind the decks you’ll find indie experts from Brussels-based indie pop rockers Recorders to party project Hi Cool Kid Gang.

Opening: Nicolas Lamas at Lokaal01

Thursday, 26 February, 20h00 Antwerp

Antwerp’s alternative art space Lokaal01 provides residencies for young, upcoming artists, and one of them is Lima-born Nicolás Lamas. During his time at Lokaal01 he has worked on three different projects, and the latest one you can discover this Thursday, when Lamas gives his final presentation. The currently Ghent-based Peruvian artist oftentimes challenges constructed perceptions: “Most of my questioning focuses on examining the models associated with scientific research and the constant pursuit of order, measure, and control of the laws that govern the perceptible world,” the artist says himself.

Concert: Carl Barat and The Jackals at Botanique

Saturday, 28 February, 20h00 Brussels

“The most electric and exuberant record he’s made since ‘Up The Bracket’”, writes British music bible NME about the new album of Carl Barat, widely known as one half of the legendary Libertines. Since their break-up, his new project Dirty Pretty Things and a not so overwhelming solo effort he has teamed up with three fellow rockers in order to form Carl Barat and The Jackals. Their debut “Let It Reign”, just released earlier this month, is full of punky, uplifting rock songs with a dash of The Clash. This Saturday they’ll rock the stage at Brussels’ Botanique.

Night out: A Family Affair at London Calling

Saturday, 28 February, 23h00 Brussels

If you’re into underground dance music and relaxed, cozy nights out, then “A Family Affair” at London Calling is definitely the right choice for you. The party concept is the result of a collaboration of a number of friends and local DJs from Kafim, Kid Strike and Phéline to Walrus and Handless DJ.

Night out: Black Out at Centre La Monnaie

Saturday, 28 February, 23h00 Brussels

Catclub’s crazy little sister is back with another edition in a magnificent new setting: the gorgeous modernist Centre La Monnaie in the heart of Brussels. Behind the decks Zurich’s Headman, who describes his soundscapes as “warped electro leftfield disco” will make sure to keep the dancefloor crowded, together with Phil Black Marquis, Lady Jane and Rob ‘n Zoopsie. Plus, Belgian art studio Uber & Kosher will provide some artwork for your visual pleasure.

Cover photo Sasha Vernaeve

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