Subscribe to our newsletter

Highlights From the Previous Week, Partnered Events and Haikus. View our Newsletter archive

The Concrete Poetry of Belgian Brutalism

Feb 6, 2018

Atelier Jespers presents Tim Onderbeke’s tribute to the architectural brutalist gems that emerged in post-war Belgium

Scroll right to read more ›
Text by Rab Messina
Photography by courtesy of Tim Onderbeke

Tim Onderbeke didn’t expect to turn his many photos of brutalist architecture in his native Belgium into an exhibition. The Ghent-based artist was simply fascinated by them. Considered a aesthetically unpopular movement for long, he couldn’t help but see beauty in its honesty.

That vision is the basis for Concrete Poetry, Onderbeke’s new exhibition in Brussels’ Atelier Jespers.

The starting point for the project, though, was not Belgium. Instead, it all started where it all started: the Unité d’habitation in Marseille. The curator read texts by Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant from L’Esprit Nouveau, their avant-garde review. He concluded that the Swiss-French modernist architect formed the basis for the umbrella of brutalism —what Isaline Raes calls it “an offspring of mid-century modernism.”

With this in mind, he’s displaying his images of work by post-war Belgian architects —such as Juliaan Lampens, Paul Felix, Alfons Hoppenbrouwers and Paul Meekels. The photos are complemented with objects and furniture designed either by the architects or by designers who worked with them —like metal artist Roger Bonduel.

With this admiring focus, he turns beacons of functionality into… well, concrete poetry.

Concrete Poetry is on display at Atelier Jespers until February 25, by appointment only


Articles you also might like

Using various textile techniques like knitting, embroidery and tufting, Paris-based textile artist Manon Daviet transposes her drawings into tapestries, creating what she calls “volume paintings”. Here, she talks TLmag through her multidisciplinary practice, finding inspiration in comic books and her embracing of mysticism in nature.

Ever since he was a child, Mounir Fatmi has been curious about the transformation of objects – how, with a slight change of context or position, they can take on entirely new meanings. As a contemporary artist, he regularly goes back into the archive, transforming materials into a highly charged body of work with cleverly subversive reflections on contemporary culture.

Cape Town-based, multi-disciplinary artist Igshaan Adams expresses and unpacks his identity through his art. In ritualistic performances and through the use of handcrafts such as embroidery and beading, he delves into personal topics that look toward the environment in which he was raised, resolving conflicting identities in a quest for spiritual enlightenment.