April 8, 2012

Babur Kamal

Islamabad: Art historian, Mariano Akerman, on Thursday stepped on the dais of the International Foreign [Women’s] Association, exactly at 7 p.m. for his lecture on Discovering Belgian Art and also to commemorate the International Year of Cultural Diversity. The lecture hall at that time was half full, and more people drifted in late to show their contempt to punctuality[,] a habit which has somehow become ingrained in many of us. Akerman lecture had an inner meaning. It was that though painters might [have risen] to the hall of fame through individual brilliance[,] their art received influences from a number of masters from different countries, and each artist contributed to freedom of expression. He said, Belgian art had its origin in small things such [as] a prayer book done by the Limbourg brothers, who painted 12 calendar months in a minuscule size book, which is an example of miniature painting, common to the East. He added, the painter who developed oil painting was a Belgian, Jan van Eyck (1390-1441, active in Bruges), [who] was the founder of the new art of the 15th century and heralded the Renaissance in northern Europe. In 90 minutes Akerman took the audience on a journey of five centuries of Belgian art and touched the works of [Jan van Eyck], [Rogier de la Pasture], Gerard David, and ended with modern masters such as Constantin Meunier, impressionist [Armand] de Beul, modernist James [Ensor], Fernarnd Khnopff, René Magritte and [Folon]. He suggested that anyone who looks at a painting should employ his inner eyes. Artists and painters express many ideas but the most persuasive one in art over the centuries, has been the [fate] of the human body, which must get old and eventually face[s] decay and death. In the same way, many artists have also looked at the pollution of the land and conveyed the same idea in the shape of burning chimneys. Akerman said a number of modern painters have caricatured the senseless act of war by depicting two warring camps fighting over possession of useless things [e.g., Ensor’s Two Skeletons fighting over a Smoked Herring]. Art should rise above mimicking details and go on to meditate higher values of mind. Akerman ended his lecture by showing three [art]works he has done lately. One showed Frenchmen, enthused by arts and free expression, the second showed the family of nations contemplating on the heritage of culture, and the third depicting the Belgian perspective in arts. Earlier, the lecture was scheduled at the French Culture Centre but was shifted to this venue after recent disturbances, especially the explosion at Denmark Embassy. However, Director Matthieu Declercq of Alliance Française was present to thank guests as well as [members of] the Belgian Embassy [who supported] the cultural function. [Argentinean] Mariano Akerman was born in Buenos Aires and was educated at the School of Architecture at Belgrano. He has interest in Belgian art and has lectured on this subject at a number of international centres. Source: Jonaid Iqbal, “Art Historian highlights Cultural Diversity,” Business Recorder, Islamabad-Lahore-Karachi, National News, p. 8