Often some degree of curiosity, quite legitimate and understandable, has been expressed about the guiding line that Myriam and Amaury de Solages followed as they collected their works of art. Could this guiding line explain the creation of Maison Particulière as well? Whereas the art center is not a place for displaying a singular artistic direction, but opts to place a multiplicity of perspectives on display, an initial response might be that no longer would the art belonging to the founders of the art center be viewed anonymously.
The guiding lines underpinning an art collection are oftentimes invisible and imperceptible, and follow mysterious pathways, because only “what is essential is invisible to the eye.”1 So, the onlooker is left to picture what they are: the body, whole or fragmented; hands, feet, gazes; beauty and one’s esthetic sense (a most personal concept, indeed); landscapes, black and white, movement; ever-essential poetry; sensuality, touch, sculpture, bronze or stone; and finally, involvement - because to speak out, or question, or denounce, or engage is to give meaning, and to give one pause. It is often said that works of art are the image of their owners… but only for a period of time.
If whittled down to a single phrase, it would be to accept and embrace curiosity and passion fully, and refuse to adopt any form of “despotism of taste.”
The guiding line for this exhibit, the craziness - of others, that is, because rarely does one consider oneself crazy - unfolds along a pathway of works of art, which first and foremost had to be selected. With each choice made, ten other works could have been chosen. With each path taken, another path could have been embarked upon. To illustrate this part of the folly - that of accumulating so many works of art - several walls of the home have been arranged as mosaics, grouping works of art around a single theme. As a contrast, other walls exhibit only a single work of art: like a breath, or a moment of contemplation. Myriam and Amaury de Solages, assisted and advised by their team, ventured upon the passionate and perilous adventure of this exhibit.
More than ever, this exhibit is a stroll through the private world of a collector’s home, unveiling an eminently subjective outlook on the taste, or rather, the tastes and emotions of a couple passionate about art.
Tastes in the plural, because this exhibit is defined by eclecticism, and eclecticism applies to the art lover rather than the art collector. The art lover, because love of art goes hand in hand with curiosity, instead of solely an interest in a trend, a style, or an era. Diversity and free will come into play as well, because this selection is presented without censorship or taboos, and spans the very first to the very latest works they acquired, never refraining from any acquisition over the years, even if the pathways were many and structured over time. It can be said that Everybody is crazy, but me portrays the preceding 16 exhibits: over one hundred works on display; some sort of disorder arranged around a guiding line; literary texts mirroring the works of art; books placed on tables or on library shelves; bouquets of flowers; a perfume with the scent of spicy rose… in a word, a stimulation of the senses. In a phrase, a home dedicated to art for the public.
Coming full circle, Everybody is crazy, but me, the fifth anniversary exhibit at Maison Particulière, at one and the same time sums up its calling, honors the artists, and encapsulates what this art center has been since its inception. This exhibit is linked to the preceding exhibits in numerous ways. While no guest artist has been invited in this particular instance, works by prior guest artists will be on display: Pieter Laurens Moll, from the first exhibit, Origin(s); Oda Jaune, from Femininity 0.1; and Kendell Geers, from Sex, Money & Power; Thomas Lerooy, from States of Mind; Fabrice Samyn, from Young Collectors; Gérard Garouste, from Obsession; and Gauthier Hubert, from Resonance(s).
Some works are being shown again at the very spot where they were initially displayed: Patera No. 1 by Josep Niebla, from Struggle(s); Large Birds by Kiki Smith, from Femininity 0.1; and Tehom by Angelo Musco, from Origin(s).
Because the past is a precursor to the future, the founders’ passion is all about discovery. Works that have never been exhibited and/or have recently been acquired from young artists will be unveiled for the first time, like a series of photographic works by Fulvio Ambrosio; a ceramic piece by Charlotte Cornaton; a work by Pierre Pol Lecouturier; and two others by Mathieu Ronsse.
Victor Ginsburgh was the first guest ever invited to stroll among the works proposed for the exhibit, Origin(s), at Maison Particulière and to find corresponding literary texts. That was five years ago. He is now returning, because it would have been unthinkable to celebrate this anniversary without him. For this exhibit, he is illustrating, in a free and personal manner, one focal work of art around which other works “gravitate restlessly or peacefully.” This time, his strolls will take him to the Middle East for the Thousand and One Nights along with poets “Abu Nuwas (8th century A.D.), born in Iran and known for his subversion and outspokenness, and Abul ‘Ala Al-Ma’ari (10th century A.D.), born in Aleppo—as well as others...”
A passage by Jules Romains2 and a single word, amazement, provide a leitmotif that applies to Maison Particulière, the spirit of its founders, and Everybody is crazy, but me:
“Throughout the entire history of the human spirit, amazement has played a considerable role and displayed priceless virtues. Although not sufficient, it was essential. It is because one or more men were amazed over some shocking absurdities or improbabilities accepted by others all around them that progress was made in understanding reality. Amazement must, of course, take an active role, it must not be ashamed of itself, and must demand accountability. And while it does not have to bow down before traditional beliefs, neither does it have to yield to new theories or hypotheses for the sole reason that they are new or distressing.”
Finally, in brief, some figures of what Maison Particulière has accomplished in the past five years, thanks to its great team.
With 16 exhibits (three per year), Maison Particulière presented to the public 1,450 works of art from 40 private collections and 14 guest artists. Ten literary guests contributed to the dialogue between the works of art and literature, allowing one to cross gazes through the maneuver of poetic mirrors. Finally, over 40,000 people came to view the exhibits, leaving a mark of their visit through several hundred photographs and comments on Instagram and Facebook.
Those who actively support Maison Particulière – its patrons, its donors, and the 600 or so members of the non-profit association – through their faithfulness and enthusiasm, have allowed the art center to hold a singular and unique place within the cultural landscape of Belgium: an unfiltered presentation of works of art, from one view to another – from the gaze of the collector to the gaze of the public.
1 Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Le Petit Prince (1943).
2 Jules Romains, Pour Raison Garder (1960). This passage was included in a work by Charles Kaisin that is on display in Everybody is crazy, but me.