Summer is in full swing and it’s an ideal time for day trips all over the country. One of my favorite day trips can be found in the East Flemish village Kemzeke. Next to the busy E34 motorway the former transport firm from Geert Verbeke has been completely taken over by art and nature. The Verbeke family was already collecting art since the 90’s, with a focus on abstract painting, than they shifted to collages and assemblages of mainly Belgian artists and in recent years the collection was further expanded to current art and bio art – art with living organisms. Geert Verbeke decided to change his life drastically and sold his transport company, but not the buildings and extensive land around it. In 2007 he and his wife Carla opened the Verbeke Foundation to the public. Don’t expect a polished museum, but find a much more interesting concept of a raw and ever-changing space where you can wander around freely and explore the art.
Not only can you find art in the big warehouse, glass houses and former stable but also in the 12 hectares scenic landscape behind the complex. It’s a real pleasure to make a walk and discover art hidden in grasslands, woods or near the big pond. Young people get a chance here to show their work together with more established artists and it’s even possible for artists to work and live on the vast grounds of Verbeke for a while. But not only the artists can stay here. If you are up to it you can stay in a real artwork CasAnus’ 2007 – the human intestine by Joep Van Lieshout or the Campingflat by Kevin Van Braak. Probably the weirdest place you have ever stayed. There is also a nice bar where you can take a rest with a beer or coffee and maybe have a small thing to eat. The terrace has a nice view on the scenic landscape and is a very nice place to relax (and no, you don’t hear the busy road ).
Verbeke Foundation is a real total experience and more than worth a visit. The exceptional collection collages and assemblages is the core of the collection, but the collection is quite diverse. The Bio-art and Eco-art on display are very interesting and show a lesser known part of the art world that works with living materials (plants, animals, smells) and create even real living art. Ever heard the sound of a decaying body part…here is your chance. Currently there is also a summer exhibition from Dutch artists Hans Waanders, Stan Wannet and Frank Gribling. Go check it out on one of the beautiful summer days yet to come.
Verbeke Foundation : Westakker, 9190 Kemzeke (Stekene), Belgium (Take exit 11 Kemzeke on the E34 motorway)
Opening Hours : Thursday till Sunday : 11h00 to 18h00
Entrance Fee : 10 Euro (Adult)