BY Chloe Stead in Critic's Guides | 05 MAY 22

What to See in Brussels This May

From Heidi Bucher's latex skinnings at Mendes Wood DM to Elen Braga's horse-themed tapestries, here are five shows not to miss in the Belgium capital

BY Chloe Stead in Critic's Guides | 05 MAY 22

Heidi Bucher
Mendes Wood
DM
26 April – 28 May 2022

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Heidi Bucher, Untitled, destiladera roja, 1991, latex and cotton on canvas. Courtesy: the Estate of Heidi Bucher and Mendes Wood DM, Brussels/New York/São Paulo

Almost three decades after her death, the work of Swiss artist Heidi Bucher is enjoying something of a renaissance. Following her extensive survey show at Munich’s Haus der Kunst, which closed in February, this small but impressive exhibition at Mendes Wood DM offers a more intimate encounter with Bucher’s surprisingly overlooked oeuvre. In the apartment-sized rooms of the two-floor gallery, latex-coated, mother of pearl-smeared domestic objects, such as Untitled (Quilt Object) (c.1985), more than hold their own against the larger architectural ‘skinnings’ for which she is best known, here exemplified by Untitled, Wall with Window, Ahnenhaus Obermühle, Wintertur, (all 19801981). Another revelation is a group of exquisitely rendered skinnings of doors, including Untitled, destiladera roja (1991), which Bucher made in Lanzarote where she lived towards the end of her life.

Lucy Raven
Wiels

27 April – 14 August 2022

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Lucy Raven, ‘Another Dull Day’, 2022, exhibition view, WIELS, Brussels. Courtesy: the artist; Lisson Gallery, London; and WIELS, Brussels; photograph: We Document Art

Spanning the entire third floor of Wiels, Lucy Raven’s austere solo exhibition ‘Another Dull Day’ centres on two film installations, consisting of a large, stand-alone LED wall and a large scale projection alongside a set of metal terraced seats. As is common in Raven’s image-based practice, both films are shot in the American West. The first, Demolition of a Wall (Album 2) (2022), which premieres at Wiels, depicts the shockwaves that occur after the detonation of an explosive charge at a test range in Socorro, New Mexico, while the mediative Ready Mix (2022), takes place in a concrete plant in Bellevue, Idaho. Although reminiscent of experimental film of the 1960s and ’70s, Raven’s use of highspeed cameras, drones and digital processing techniques also evoke contemporary surveillance footage. As the exhibition literature notes, Raven ‘scrutinizes what is usually overlooked: gravel pits, nuclear testing sites, ballistic ranges – contemporary settler industries hidden in plain sight.’

Peter Wächtler
D
épendance
27 April – 28 May 2022

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Peter Wächtler, ‘Softies’, 2022, exhibition view, dépendance, Brussels. Courtesy: the artist and dépendance, Brussels

In the self-penned exhibition text that accompanies his latest solo exhibition at dépendance, Peter Wächtler is in a confessional mood.There was a brief period,’ he writes ‘when I wanted to sculpt the actors as nudes. But I had to give up on it. It was too much for me. Working with plaster in general is bad enough, it is a horrible material.’ He is referring to Main Actor 1, 2 and 3 (all works 2022) a set of sculptures of actors in mid-bow. Anyone who has ever been to the theatre is likely familiar with the awkwardness that can arise from repeated curtain calls, but here the roses scattered at the actors’ feet suggest a successful performance. ‘I always admired the actor’s confidence to come back front stage several times […] personally I would not know when to stop’ explains Wächtler in his text, himself employing a kind of fictional persona. Elsewhere, a series of ceramic casts of towels (Two towels I– II, Towel Red and Towel Blue) further complicate any straight-forward reading of this beguiling exhibition.

Leonor Antunes
La Loge
28 April – 03 July 2022

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Leonor Antunes, ‘discrepancies’, 2022, exhibition view, La Loge Brussels. Courtesy: the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, London/Paris/New York; Air de Paris; Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo; and La Loge Brussels; photograph: Lola Pertsowsky

Housed in a former masonic temple, the basement-level windowless main exhibition room at La Loge offers an unusual challenge to artists. In Leonor Antunes’s ‘discrepancies’, the artist illuminates the space only through the dim glow of her new installation of light fixtures, giving the room an eerie, unnerving air, despite the many visitors I accounted during my time there. Taken from three separate series of works – including the Egle lamps that Antunes produced for the Portugal Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale in homage to visionary female architect Egle Renata Trincanato – these beautifully-produced objects typify the artist’s interest in craft traditions and modernist design.

Elen Braga
Waldburger Wouters
23 April – 28 May 2022

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Elen Braga, ‘The Horses Are Coming’, 2022, exhibition view, Waldburger Wouters, Brussels. Courtesy: the artist and Waldburger Wouters, Brussels; photograph: Isabelle Arthuis

In contrast to the relative calm of the other hand tufted tapestries on display, there is a kinetic element to Elen Braga’s Carousel (2021). Wrapped around a wooden frame and hung from a motor attached to the ceiling, the piece gently spins in the center of Waldburger Wouters’s back room, depicting a frenzied battle that pits police horses and their handlers against a group of teenagers. It’s a scene inspired by a real-world altercation between police and attendees of the ‘festival’ La Boum, which took place in Brussels just over a year ago as a protest against COVID-19 restrictions. Seen in this light, the show’s title ‘The Horses Are Coming’, is an invitation to panic rather than celebrate, with horses recurring throughout as symbols of state violence and domination.

Main image: Heidi Bucher, 'Memory as Architecture, Memory of Skin', installation view, 2022, Mendes Wood DM, Brussels. Courtesy: the Estate of Heidi Bucher and Mendes Wood DM, Brussels/New York/São Paulo

Section lead image: Elen Braga, ‘The Horses Are Coming’, 2022, exhibition view, Waldburger Wouters, Brussels. Courtesy: the artist and Waldburger Wouters, Brussels; photograph: Isabelle Arthuis

Chloe Stead is assistant editor of frieze. She lives in Berlin, Germany. 

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