Pieter Bruegel the Elder has for centuries been a source of inspiration to innumerable Flemish artists. The exhibition entitled Bruegel Land, at the Municipal Museum of Lier, explores the extent of the Master’s influence on subsequent generations of painters.
Who is not familiar with the scenes from popular life by Pieter Bruegel the Elder? They are known the world over and forever etched into our collective memory. In fact Bruegel was already a renowned artist during his lifetime. Emperors, kings and queens, as well as wealthy burghers would pay substantial sums of money for work by his hand. It was a way of confirming their self-identity by distancing themselves from the uncultivated, ‘boorish’ behaviour that Bruegel depicted in his genre scenes. After his death, his sons – Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder – picked up the proven success formula. Following in their wake were artists such as Van Ostade, Teniers and Steen, all of whom produced personal interpretations of Bruegelian tavern and festival scenes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, genre painters such as De Braekeleer and Horemans also followed in the footsteps of Bruegel. And in the early 20th century, Bruegel was reinvented by the Flemish Expressionists, as Permeke, De Smet, Smits and Van de Woestyne breathed new life into his peasant scenes with their characteristically earthy palette and raw brushwork.
Focus 4: Saint³. Force of habit. Jimmy Kets in Bruegel land
From 3 April 2015 to 6 March 2016
Bruegel land is an exhibition project about the universal visual language of Bruegel and his successors. The standpoint and focus of the exhibition change every year. The fifth edition explores religious traditions such as pilgrimages, Christmas scenes, kermises, wedding and other processions.
The exhibition-makers asked the internationally acclaimed photographer Jimmy Kets (Lier °1979) to supplement the new presentation with coverage of legends of saints which have survived in the town where he was born. Kets came up with photographs of the Saint Gummarus procession, of the distribution of food on Saint Anthony’s name day and of Saint Hubertus blessing animals. Saint³ in the exhibition title refers to this trilogy of saints Gummarus, Hubertus and Anthony. We can look forward later in the year to Kets’ pictures of the Marian Children’s Procession, which will leave from the beguinage in Lier on June 7th, the first Sunday after Corpus Christi.
Pieter Bruegel I and Jimmy Kets both openly record everyday life, though from a different standpoint: while Bruegel views people and their actions from a distance, Kets gets very close to his subjects. Both prompt the viewer to look with fresh eyes at what is ordinary and familiar. They see what others don’t see. Their pictures conjure up a story and details make us stop and think. Always with respect, a nod and a wink.
However ancient and pious the theme, what we essentially see in the photographs in Saint³ is ourselves and how we relate to the past today. What Jimmy Kets captures is that second in human nature that normally passes us by unnoticed.
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for further information on lectures, concerts, nocturnes, holiday workshops and guided tours
This exhibition is a collaboration between KMSKA and the Municipal Museums of Lier.