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If we choose to follow the recent analyses of the present, it is difficult to find access to true joy. It’s not just the big crises that are taking their toll today. Deeper and more draining are the quiet but steady erosions of private emotional life – through the abolition of transcendence, the senseless jumping around between consumption and disposal, the ultra-cynicism of modern art or in the face of joyless sexuality. Life no longer holds any secrets.


The Metaphysica exhibition allows itself the luxury of fictional freedom: what if there were something else behind the façade of the world as we know it? If there were levels of perception that lie beyond the visible surface? Metaphysica asks about today’s possibilities to dream, to experience ecstasy and agitated feelings, about death and the inexplicable, about somnambulistic states.

Trip to the other side ‘Metaphysica’ takes up the current feeling of a historical turning point that already had a well-known precursor in the fin-de-siècle. By the end of the nineteenth century, traditional ties were dissolving in Europe, and social conflicts were unsettling people with a widespread feeling of disorientation and abandonment. The cultural elite reacted in different ways. On the one hand, artists and writers of the turn of the century responded with aesthetic exaggeration and decadent art production – with a flight into aestheticism. The other current, Symbolism, dived into the world of the unconscious. It ventured into the border area between dream and reality and dealt with existential questions of death, Eros and myth. At that time, the Symbolist movement spread from Brussels and Paris throughout Europe. But Freud, Wagner, Nitzsche and German Romanticism also left their mark on Symbolism, which became a pan-European movement.

Times of crisis, even today, have a disruptive effect. While contemporary art of the last decades was primarily meant to shake things up and appeared ironic or explanatory, various creative collectives emerged in its shadow and below the radar of the art market, seeking other paths.

Belgium is a centre of this development. For years now, a vital scene in Flanders and Wallonia has been making a name for itself, in which design workshops in particular are venturing into a free, cross-border and emotional sphere of action; Belgian artists are making a start in the three-part exhibition series ‘Metaphysica’, curated by Pascal Johanssen, which brings together this unknown part of the European art discourse in an synopsis.

Participating artists
Atelier Mestdagh, Maarten de Ceulaer, Julien Feller, Orson Oxo Van Beek, Yoann PICCARDI, Kaspar Hamacher, atelier lachært dhanis, Adeline Halot, Dim Atelier, Basile Boon, Les Monseigneurs, RSLT