[Anonymous], S. Rosalia, 18th century (?), clad copper engraving on on parchment (Antwerp, Library Ruusbroec Institute, RG-PC Beklede prenten 9a)
March-November 2023

Programme ‘Baroque Influencers’ officially presented to the press

Exhibitions, baroque music concerts, a lecture series featuring speakers from Belgium and abroad, and a remarkable immersive experience for young and old: all this and more awaits during Baroque Influencers. The festival’s founders, UCSIA and the University of Antwerp, have joined forces with more than fifteen cultural houses and organizations, including the KMSKA, the Snijders&Rockox House, Tutti Fratelli and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, to ask why we are still children of the Baroque today. The city festival of tradition and renewal will run from March to November 2023.

Flanders has a new city festival: Baroque Influencers, which boasts an impressive list of partners all helping to shape the programme. What’s also striking about the programme is its eclecticism: the festival turns a baroque focus on a range of artistic and intellectual disciplines. Art lovers will be able to enjoy three large exhibitions and classical music concerts at various locations in Antwerp’s city centre, while speakers both local and international will spend an entire year examining the issues we are wrestling with as a society today – issues such as freedom and responsibility, purpose, human malleability and the tension between colonization and decolonization. Albanian writer and professor Lea Ypi will be the first to take to the stage on 29 March 2023.

[Anonymous], S. Rosalia, 18th century (?), clad copper engraving on
on parchment (Antwerp, Library Ruusbroec Institute, RG-PC Beklede
prenten 9a).

Rubens and the jesuits

Three different exhibitions will allow visitors to embark on a visual journey through time from the 17th century back up to the present. In the galleries of the St. Charles Borromeo Church, they will discover how the Jesuits used devotional pictures, emblems and other visual material to disseminate their convictions in the 17th century. And we cannot think of Baroque without thinking of Peter Paul Rubens: during Baroque Influencers, more than forty unique works will find their way back to Antwerp for an extraordinary, partly virtual exhibition at the Snijders&Rockox House. Meanwhile, in the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library, visitors can use augmented reality to find out more about the sodality to which Rubens and Van Dyck belonged in the 17th century.

Felix Timmermans, Christus bespot -1930 – Tempera on panel

The avant-garde and a contemporary sodality

The avant-garde is undoubtedly the most fascinating artistic period we have known in our part of the world after the Baroque. During the new city festival, the KMSKA’s Print Room will be dedicated to shedding light on the religious dimensions of art society De Pelgrim (The Pilgrim, 1924-1930), whose members included Felix Timmermans, Gerard Walschap and Marnix Gijsen and who sought to marry modernity with faith.

At the Port House, the city festival will re-establish links to the present, as curator Sergio Servellón shapes a contemporary sodality in partnership with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Antwerp Art Weekend and the Sofie Van de Velde and De Zwarte Panter galleries.

Baroque Influencers today

In the run-up to the city festival, the organizers are launching a fortnightly podcast bearing the same name. Each episode focuses on a universal subject that is both centuries old and achingly current, and sees podcaster Anke Verschueren inviting all kinds of contemporary influencers to explore how our baroque heritage lives on today. How has the art of persuasion changed over the last four centuries? And what debts do 2022’s influencers owe their baroque predecessors, the Jesuits, either consciously or unconsciously? The first episode, featuring artist Jaouad Alloul, is now available on Spotify and on this website.

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