March 15–August 19, 2018
Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain

Works by Etel Adnan, Manal Al Dowayan, El Anatsui, Farah Atassi, Abdelkader Benchamma, Barbara Bloom, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Pascal Convert, Eli Cortiñas, Giorgio De Chirico, Paul Delvaux, Marlene Dumas, Lionel Estève, Jef Geys, Alberto Giacometti, Geert Goiris, Mimmo Jodice, On Kawara, Martin Kippenberger, KRJST Studio, Marwan, Mathieu Mercier, Melik Ohanian, Claudio Parmiggiani, Giuseppe Penone, Constant Permeke, Félicien Rops, Norbert Schwontkowski, Kiki Smith, Léon Spilliaert, Tatiana Wolska, Samuel Yal, Rémy Zaugg, Lamia Ziadé

Melancholia takes the word “Melancholy” as a point of departure and explores how artists across generations and geographies have grappled with both its negative and positive connotations in their artworks. Melancholy originates from the Greek language c.14th and was used to describe a condition “with or caused by black bile; sullen, gloomy, sad,” from melancholy (n.); a sense of “deplorable” (of a fact or state of things).”

The exhibition examines the origins and manifestations of this feeling as it manifests in both the Eastern and the Western cultures throughout history and reminds us of a lost origin, whilst instilling a sense of mourning for a past world.

Works by a diverse group of artists including; Etel Adnan, El Anatsui, Farah Atassi, Barbara Bloom, Joseph Beuys, Marlene Dumas, Alberto Giacometti, On Kawara and Kiki Smith are presented in the main gallery spaces, further complimented by site-specific installations designed for the Boghossian Foundation. These include Pascal Convert’s Library (2016), Christian Boltanski’s Animitas (2016-18), and Tatiana Wolska’s Atrakcja (2018), both installations situated in the gardens of Villa Empain, and an all-encompassing monochrome fresco, The unreachable part of us (2018) by Abdelkader Benchamma. Bathrooms, bedrooms, boudoirs, lounges and the cafe are all filled with artworks grouped under six themes – six themes – Lost Paradise, Melancholia, Ruins, Passing Time, Solitude and Absence.

Melancholia, as a theme overall, is an apt point of departure for the present time due to the challenges faced across the world in times of climate change, conflict, wars and unrest. Alongside seemingly observable changes in the works, the digital revolution and in turn the way we interact online has also brought a distancing in the ways we interact with each other meaning more people turn to the virtual world for both positive and negative relationships.

Curated by Louma Salamé, who directs the curatorial and exhibitions programme at The Boghossian-Villa Empain Foundation, she is also a member of the Boghossian family, who are of Armenian origin (passed through Syria and Lebanon) and set up the foundation as a “centre of art and dialogue between the cultures of East and West”. The Boghossian Foundation is also instrumental in humanitarian work in Lebanon, Armenia and, before the war, in Syria.

Melancholia traverses more than 150 years of artistic representation and invites viewers to not just consider melancholy and its universal representations, but to engage through artworks with a dialogue between the works of modern and contemporary artists who are all inspired by the nostalgia of an elsewhere or a before, and by representations of loneliness, ruins and passing time.

About the Boghossian Foundation
The Boghossian Foundation was created in 1992 by Robert Boghossian and his sons, Jean and Albert, jewelers of Armenian origin. The Foundation realizes social and educational projects around the world. In 2010, it opened Brussels’ historic Art Deco masterwork, the Villa Empain, to the public as a centre for art and dialogue between East and West. Since its opening, the centre has welcomed over 250,000 visitors whithin the framework of exhibitions, conferences and international encounters organised all year long.

Featured image: Fondation Boghossian, Abdelkader Benchamma, The unreachable part of us, 2018 © Lola Pertsowsky.