Gamechangers & Eyeopeners

For the eighth edition of the Biennial of Painting, Mudel – together with curator Willem Elias and platvvorm – analyses the practice of some artists who, on the one hand, are embedded in and inspired by local trends or traditions, but who either cannot ground themselves in these or find them too limiting. Recurring patterns across generations are also revealed.

The process of making an exhibition is always a form of research and in Gamechangers & Eyeopeners the aspect of research is strongly emphasised. The exhibition is therefore, in a sense, a reflection on its own research process and all the artists exhibited in all the previous editions. After all, in order to arrive at an authentic visual language of their own, the artist must at some point be able to sufficiently free themselves from academicism, from some great role model or other, from a teacher, from a local situation, etc. Some artists therefore consciously leave their familiar habitat, seek out other places, broaden their horizons with new stimuli. Others may experience a situation that rather unexpectedly prompts them to make a radical switch or to temporarily change course.

Certain artists specifically include a form of research in their artistic practice. Others naturally study or absorb the work of other artists and/or carry certain art-historical baggage with them. Beyond this, all these artists are part of a complex cultural network. Can these networks be comprehended? Can a kind of family tree be drawn up to map generations of artists or artists’ movements?

Certains artistes intègrent spécifiquement une forme de recherche à leur pratique artistique. D’aucuns étudient ou absorbent de manière naturelle l’œuvre d’autres artistes et/ou ont un bagage d’histoire de l’art dans leur besace. D’autant plus que tous ces artistes font partie d’un réseau culturel complexe. Peut-on résumer ces réseaux ? Peut-on établir une sorte d’arbre généalogique pour des générations ou des mouvements d’artistes ?


Willem Elias (1950, Aalst) comes from a family where both his father and uncle were art historians. Despite this, he chose to do a doctorate in philosophy, focusing on the question of contemporary art’s function. He is an emeritus professor of the VUB. In addition to having worked in the fields of art philosophy and art education (where he trained cultural experts), as an AICA art critic he has written extensively on Belgian art in numerous monographs and catalogues, as well as in the two-volume book Aspects of Belgian Art After ‘45. Theory aside, he also has experience in the practice of exhibiting art. Between 1972 and 1980, he helped mount exhibitions in his father’s gallery. Between 1980 and 1986, he expanded the activities of an art gallery at the VUB. Since his retirement from academia, he has curated several exhibitions, including two by alumni of the HISK (Higher Institute of Fine Arts), of which he is founding chairman.

platvvorm is a dynamic artists’ initiative in Deinze (active since 2017) whose activities are shaped on the basis of process, experimentation, searching and daring. With curiosity, encounter and friction as the foundation, it seeks to encourage relationships between artists and the public that go beyond unambiguous appreciation and in which both creation and presentation are the starting point for interpersonal development. The programme was spearheaded by Katelijne De Corte, in close consultation with Jonas Lescrauwaet, and aims to focus increasingly on extra-mural activities that further extend the reach of the above-mentioned relationships.


Charles-René Callewaert, Emile Claus, Amédée Cortier, Werner Cuvelier, Raoul De Keyser, Marcin Dudek, Dieter Durinck, Artur Eranosian, Henri Evenepoel, Tsuguharu Foujita, Jef Geys, Gommaar Gilliams, Al Held, Torahiro Kojima, Guy Mees, Frans Piens, Johan Van Geluwe, Jos Verdegem, Pierre Vlerick, Gustave Van de Woestyne