Belgian Realism in Cinema, Art & Music


From the stark honesty of Luc Tuymans to the realism portrayed in the screenplay of up and coming directors Adil el Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Belgium has played a pivotal role in challenging the limits of artistic creativity for decades. This year London is showcasing the main players in Belgian cinema, art and music.

Raw Cinematography From The Streets Of Brussels

Taking influences from Shakespeare’s classic love story “Romeo & Juliet” mixed with Arthur Laurents’ “West Side Story”, the film “BLACK” tells the story of the streetgangs of Brussels, Belgium. The film was first screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and has already won several awards in Belgium.

The up and coming directing duo, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah share Moroccan roots as well as graduating together from Sint-Lukas art school in Brussels. Their interesting choice of “streetcasting” i.e. casting unknown actors and actresses from the streets, particularly the migrant neighbourhoods of Brussels, adds a rawness to the screenplay.


Based on the books “Black & Back” by Dirk Bracke, the film tells the story of a tumultuous love affair between 15 year old Black Bronx member, Mavela and Marwan, a member of 1080s, the rival gang. The young couple are forced to make the decision between love and loyalty; a heartbreaking dilemma.

Lifting The Spirits With Renaissance Music

Lovers of Franco-Flemish Renaissance music are sure to enjoy this concert by the Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, which features songs conducted by Belgian composers Clemens and Lassus.

Luc Tuymans: Glasses

Luc Tuymans is a Belgian artist, considered to be one of the most influential painters alive today. His signature style incorporates a figurative style using and manipulating already existing visual imagery including drawings, paintings and photographs. His work often includes a social or political comment on history through his eyes; his polemic subject matter ranges from the Holocaust, the Belgian Congo to the banality of inconsequential everyday household items.

Tuymans exploded onto the art scene with his exploration of World War II in Europe. His painting entitled Gas Chamber depicts the Dachau concentration camp is stark and honest.


Moving on from his historical reflections, Tuyman became interested in the way we perceive ourselves and other people. Focusing far more on the banality of everyday life and people, Tuymans painted a series of portraits wearing glasses. His style now focusing on giving the mundane a purpose. “Luc Tuymans: Glasses” is on display at the National Portrait Gallery from 4 Oct - 2 April 2017.

Intriguing Creations

There is also a chance to view the artwork of James Ensor through the curatorship of Luc Tuymans at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Ensor, an important figure in the development of Expressionism, despite spending his entire professional career in the small seaside town of Ostend, Belgium. His ideas transgressed and transcended those conservative art teachings of the late 19th century in Belgium and Europe as a whole, making him an important figure in the Avant-Garde movement.