Home / EXCLUSIVE / Exclusive – Wim Waelput, Art Safari curator: I’ve always had fascination for the Eastern European art world
Credits: Tom Callemin
Credits: Tom Callemin

Exclusive – Wim Waelput, Art Safari curator: I’ve always had fascination for the Eastern European art world

Wim Waelput, born in 1979 in Ghent, is the founding director and curator of KIOSK, a venue for contemporary art in Ghent, affiliated with the School of Arts. At KIOSK he curated shows with, among others, Annika Eriksson, Ulla von Brandenburg, Slavs and Tatars, Jan De Cock and Thea Djordjaze.
As project and exhibition coordinator at the School of Arts (KASK & Royal Conservatory) he is in charge of the graduation exhibition. Since 2011 he is advisor at Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam. He curated the exhibition ‘Prospects & Concepts’, organized by the Mondriaan Fund during Art Rotterdam 2013. Wim Waelput will be the curator of Art Safari this year.

 

You have a long experience in curating art exhibitions across Europe. How come you joined the Art Safari in Bucharest? What was the challenge you saw in this project?

I am always interested in expanding my knowledge on art and the world in general. Living in Western Europe I am aware of the fact that there is a certain focus on Western art history. Therefore I have always had fascination for the Eastern European art world. When I was invited to curate the central exhibition that is part of the parallel program of Art Safari, I took the opportunity to discover the complex and interesting history and the rich cultural traditions that helped to shape Romania’s unique identity. I was immediately persuaded by the potential of the emergence of a vivid artistic scene and I consider it a privilege to contribute to this.

Is it the first time you come to Romania or have you been there before?

I must confess, this is my first time.

Photo Credit: Tom Callemin

Photo Credit: Tom Callemin

Art Safari main exhibition this year will be dedicated to one of our greatest Romanian painters, Stefan Luchian, also known as the “plastic painter of flowers’. Have you managed to study his paintings? What do you think of them? To what extent the classics’ masterpieces and styles are still actual for the contemporary art consumers?

During my visit to the National Museum of Art I got acquainted with the work of Stefan Luchian. I was impressed by the decisive and expressive, yet sensitive style of his work. Many important artistic developments have been resonating with earlier developments, and the ideas of a new generation of artists often have been introduced by their precursors. As one of the pioneers of the modern painting tradition Luchian proved to be extremely influential to a later generation of artists, therefore his importance cannot be overestimated.

How would you assess the Romanian art market from what you have seen so far? Has it certain particularities than in the rest of European countries?

As a curator the art market is not my main focus but from a distance I detect that the Romanian art market is rather small and locally oriented, with the exception of the few galleries that have an international reach.

What does art means nowadays, in your view, compared to other decades, before let’s say the technology expansion? Is art going more viral than ever now with all the online and social media?

I think social media and online platforms will definitely continue to influence the future. New technologies on the whole are to be embraced by the arts. Art has always had a strong interest in technology. As a mean of production and as means to the circulation and the communication about art. The developments in digital technologies have changing effects upon contemporary image production and reception. It influences our thoughts and actions and it challenges our ability to bring the boundary between image and reality into focus.

From your experience, who is the average European art consumer in terms of age, gender, education, profession, etc?

There is no such thing as an average art consumer, there are many types: all ages, all gender, all educational levels and all kind of professions. In fact, there many artworlds. They exist at local, regional and international levels and there are many ways to navigate them. They range from hidden subcultures and non-profits; to the institutional field, museums and the art market; addressing different groups of people. And there are many artworlds that do not necessarily resemble the artworld as it was shaped in the West.

Getting back to your soul project, KIOSK, how have you come up with the name and what is its position among other art exhibition venues in Belgium and Europe?

The name KIOSK comes from its first venue, a small glass pavilion located in a front garden on the same site where we are permanently housed now. KIOSK is a non-collecting and non-profit art gallery, affiliated with the School of Arts in Ghent and mainly funded by the Flemish ministry of Culture. We organize a diverse exhibition program by both emerging and established artists. Each year KIOSK hosts four exhibitions focusing on contemporary visual arts, mainly solo exhibitions by both international and Belgian artists. For these exhibitions we often collaborate with many international partners.

 

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