Many of us have had the opportunity, during a visit to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, to discover one of the winners of the Prix Marcel Duchamp. Today, all of these prize winners are exhibiting one or more of their works in a collective show organised by the Centrale for contemporary art in Brussels. One way to showcase our dear neighbours’ emerging art scene, a few weeks before a similar, albeit much older (1950), art prize is awarded, that of the Jeune Peinture Belge, renamed Young Belgian Art Prize in 2013.

As for the Prix Marcel Duchamp, it was created in France 15 years ago (2000), at the initiative of ADIAF (Association pour la Diffusion Internationale de l’Art Français). This association of passionate collectors was keen to help emerging artists by giving them the means to blossom. The prize now ranks among the leading international contemporary art awards. Ever since its inception, more than sixty artists have been distinguished, including 14 prize winners. Now 350, the collectors affiliated to ADIAF play a major role in the association. The ever increasing role of collectors in contemporary art over recent years will be the subject of an event on 22 June in Brussels City Hall, co-organised by the Centrale, the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France, ADIAF and Jeune Peinture Belge. We’ll be there!

Alfred Pacquement, president of the Prix Duchamp jury from 2000 to 2013, is the guest curator for the exhibition at the Centrale. After visiting their studios with the hope of finding a common thread to their various practices and approaches, he decided to bring the 14 prize winners together under the theme of the journey, borrowing the exhibition’s title from Charles Baudelaire’s poem, Invitation to a voyage. The exhibition should be viewed as both a provisional review of the Prix Duchamp and an opportunity to discover and rediscover the artists, who are all socially engaged and keen travellers. These two very topical aspects of artistic practice allow them to trace the contemporary landscape, reacting to political and social developments and to the news, highlighting its excesses.

The selection of works is really impressive. As regards the diversity of techniques first of all: photography, video, weaving, installations… For example, Thomas Hirschhorn (1958) created compositions made from recycled materials and objects, representing the five continents. Mathieu Mercier (1970), whose work is protean, produced a triptych on canvas and also a sculpture made from items he found in his studio, 3 Axes, 3 Sphères.

Carole Benzaken (1964), who “makes films with paint”, questions the status of images by processing them either as photos on a light box, or through painting, etc. Check out the huge canvas (acrylic on parachute silk) by Cyprien Gaillard that makes a Boum !,  as well as his videos. As he puts it, Mircea Canto (1977) lives and works on earth: a large picture entitled All the directions shows a hitch-hiker holding up a blank sign, thus indicating no destination, which is emblematic of this wandering artist. Woven in Turkey, his Airplane and Angels carpet flies above our heads. Let’s not forget Laurent Grasso’s neon lights 1610 IV, and the delicate Fantôme installation created by Latifa Echakhch (1970). We complete our tour with the fabulous Madame de… (l’écorchée), by Philippe Mayaux (1961); totally surreal!

Invitation au voyage
15 years Prix Marcel Duchamp
Centrale for contemporary art
44 place Sainte-Catherine
1000 Brussels
Until 30 August
Wednesdays – Sundays, from 10:30 to 18:00



Thomas Hirschhorn, The One World, courtesy l’artiste et galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris


Mathieu Mercier, 3 Axes, 3 Sphères, collection Blidar-Verjus, courtesy TORRI, Paris


Mircea Cantor, Vertical Attempt, collection de l’artiste et Magazzino, Rome


Laurent Grasso, 1610 IV, courtesy galerie Perrotin, Paris/New York. Hong Kong


Latifa Echakhch, Fantôme, Prix Duchamp, Collection G. Malavais et F. Michel, courtesy Kamel Mennour, Paris


Daniel Dewar et Grégory Gicquel, Original Peruvian Carpet, Prix Duchamp, collection Caroline Young Fougeron, courtesy galerie Loevenbruck, Paris


Cyprien Gaillard, Cities of gold and mirrors, Prix Duchamp, courtesy galerie Bugada & Cargnel, Paris; Laura Bartlett Gallery, London, Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London


Carole Benzaken, De porte à porte, Prix Duchamp, courtesy l’artiste et galerie Obadia, Paris


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