Our little Brussels is becoming more and more an art hub in Europe. Why else should galleries such as ifagallery have a branch in the city of the Manneken Pis? Might it be the easy connection with the two major art destinations in Europe, Paris and London? Or the historical openness of Belgium to avant-garde art?
The new exhibition in ifagallery in rue des Renards, perpendicular to the square of Jeu de Balle in Marolles, is devoted to the Latvian artist Zane Mellupe (Riga, 1981). This sinologist and photographer, who lives in Shanghai since 2001 and graduated in Photography at the University of Arts of London in 2007, proves with her exhibition that Brussels is connected to the new centers of the world in the twenty first century. Her work, multicultural and personal, combines different photographic techniques to claim the connection between the objects and the body (hers, as you will realise with more or less effort in the exhibition). Its humour derives from the detachment that her complex Western-Eastern background bestows upon her.
Zane’s work also refers directly to Latvian culture. First of all, nature, especially forests, as the origin of human life; even more, trees as the connection of human lives with mother Earth—and her own motherhood—and the presence of their material, wood or paper, in the work of art. Secondly, traditional tools and techniques, as the iconic hammer, scissors, or rulers and the reinterpretation of knitting, now under urban neon lights.
Her work is unique. I found a new connection between the city and the countryside, the old and the new. The big plexiglass horizontal images, which looked at first like a untuned tv screen, are in fact corrupted files of Chinese landscapes: a good summary of her art between East and West, city and nature, the modern and the traditional.
Image credits © Ruskin in Brussels