Mu.ZEE has been a fixture on Ostend’s art scene ever since its inception in 2008. The gallery, whose name cleverly plays on its proximity to the ocean (‘zee’ meaning sea), has a history of championing both local and Belgian artists. Highlights in the permanent collection dating from 1850 to today are major works by James Ensor such as Self-Portrait With Flowered Hat, and 160 paintings and graphic designs by Léon Spilliaert. Also present are contemporary gems by Luc Tuymans, Panamarenko and so forth. All these greats of the Lower Countries are accompanied by upcoming regional artists that Mu.Zee has selected for your discovery and delight.
Mu.ZEE, Romestraat 11, Ostend, Belgium +32 059 50 81 18
Late hours and a convivial atmosphere for visiting artists and amateur photographers are what set Exposure Value apart from its local peers, putting the discipline of photography on the Ostend map. Each year from September to May, four photographers – both young talents and established names – are invited by Yvon Poncelet and his wife Kristien Terryn to put their best work on display inside the modern gallery of their old manor house. Also on permanent display are the gallery’s “valuables” – hundreds of precious old cameras that have been put to rest, made obsolete by ever-evolving technology. With each new exhibition, the visiting photographer is awarded the privilege of choosing one old (still-functioning) camera to enjoy the limelight once more.
Exposure Value, Jules Peurquaetstraat 82, Ostend, Belgium +32 059 70 49 13
A stone’s throw from the famous Ensor House lies Ostend’s curiously narrow and petite architectural gem, Theobalds Boothuisje. The elegance of this Art Nouveau building, with its balcony shaped to resemble a ship’s bow, would be well worth a visit on its own. Luck has it then that MedusaArts has taken up residence in the house, presenting contemporary art with a respect for the splendor of its surroundings. The abstract works often on display mesh astonishingly well with the Art Nouveau backdrop.
When taking a stroll through Ostend’s curious Belle Époque quarter – the epitome of eclectic architecture with its mix of ornate mansions and mundane flats from the 1970s and 1980s – be sure to pop into Art Gallery Decrauw. Frequent evening events and the presence of the artist make for an environment where debate is encouraged as the new gallery aims to recreate the salon atmosphere of yesteryear. All branches of visual artistry are welcomed – as well as work by both national and international names – as long as the works possess a ‘striking’ quality.
Art Gallery Decrauw, Prinses Clementinaplein 28, Ostend, Belgium +32 0473 92 47 38