When one thinks of Belgium’s must-see cities to visit, the usual suspects probably come to mind: Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels. But though Belgium is admittedly tiny, there’s more to the tri-lingual country than these historic centers.
And while it’s true that Belgium, and Flanders in particular, is one of the most densely populated areas in Europe, there are still relatively remote and peaceful rural areas to be explored.
Hidden away in the West-Flanders countryside, White Line Hotel’s first Belgian pied-à-terre can be found. Spoor.62 is a real gem, half an hour from Ostend, a coastal city that garnered a sophisticated reputation at the end of the 19th century, when it became known as ‘The Queen of the Belgian seaside resorts’.
Nowadays, the city of Ostend is still much-visited, thanks in part to Mu.ZEE, a cultural institution housed a former department store, a modernist building designed in 1947 by architect Gaston Eysselinck.
Home to Ostend’s fine art collection, it stages exhibitions three times a year that often have some link to the sea, and the artistic personalities that resided in Ostend, such as James Ensor (who also received the honour of having a satellite museum in the city dedicated to him, which is currently being renovated).
Aiming to be a ‘museum in motion’, Mu.ZEE’s director, Philip Van den Bossche, firmly believes in the notion that ‘the place where art is kept is also the place where it disappears.’ To this end, he invites curators to exhibit their visions on art as a dialogue with the city itself. Currently on view is a second installment of a series named ‘The Raft. Art is (not) lonely’.
Curated by the renowned Belgian artist Jan Fabre and curator Joanna De Vos, it has become a careful selection of national and international artists’ works that continue on the theme of Géricault’s ‘The Raft of Medusa’ continued in Fabre’s own work. Though they are 170 years apart, they touch upon the same subject, namely that of the imagination of expedition, the artist’s destination – a metaphor of the human condition.
The addition of works by Steve McQueen, Michaël Borremans and Luc Tuymans means this is an exhibition not to be missed, especially when staying in Spoor.62’s beautifully restored train station premises.