The Blue Route exhibition at Villa Empain
Posted 27/11/2013 12:32

The Blue Route Exhibition at Villa Empain


On Tuesday November 12th a group of 38 members of our Community: students, parents, faculty, staff and directors discovered the Villa Empain located on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt here in Brussels.


With the Stoclet Palace, the Villa Empain is certainly one of the most beautiful architectural masterpieces of Art Deco in Brussels. In 1930, at the age of 21, Baron Louis Empain had this private mansion of 2500 square meters built with the most prestigious materials of the time. The estate was later abandoned and deteriorated shamefully. After an extraordinary renovation the Villa Empain is today open to the public: it is also known as the Boghossian Foundation a Center for art and dialogue between the cultures of the East and the West.


Students and visitors were enchanted by works of art exploring the theme of The Blue Route, the Center’s current temporary exhibition.


What a pleasure to have shared this cultural experience with colleagues, parents and especially ES/MS/HS students who had an appreciative eye! The restored Art-Deco Empain Villa was worth a visit on its own, but to have the added benefit of La Route Bleue (Silk Route) exhibition was an exceptional treat. We discovered new nuances of the colour blue and exquisite art and crafts. Some of the art work was made especially for the venue. Our group guide shared his passion for the family, the villa’s architecture and history, and the exhibition in a lively manner with many facts and anecdotes. Thank you to ISB Visual Arts team for giving us this opportunity to learn more about Art Deco, Belgian history and La Route Bleue with a mixed group of ages and perspectives.


Tommie Bette, Director of Summer Lifelong Learning & ISB+


Brussels’ grey skies were quickly forgotten last Tuesday night when the elegant doors of the Villa Empain opened onto a world of golds and blues so redolent I was overwhelmed. It was as if I had stumbled into a magic palace in the middle of a dark forest. I followed my guide into rooms that told stories of places and peoples from far away. And each story evoked a world… and every world conjured a particular kind of blue…


Kimete Basha, MHS Library, Head Librarian


                I found the theme chosen very interesting; especially in the analysis of the relationship between regional cultures and the color blue and the way this relationship has changed over time and has been influenced by other facts. The Blue Road is, without any doubt, a fascinating journey to link East and West, and bridge two different ways of thinking. The blue color becomes a common language throughout cultures. I was amazed by the selection of the artists: all the works were impressive, well displayed and artistically dialogued extremely well. I think that the villa itself is a piece of art and the space inside just perfect for exhibitions. Actually, this place is not only fantastic for displaying art: I recently saw a fashion model photo shooting there!


Monica Vaccari, ISB Parent


It was an impossible challenge to keep a straight face while our guide constantly stared at us in the eye and joked with often successful yet terrible humor. In a strong French accent he managed to enthrall us with historical facts about the Villa Empain involving its owners (Empain was among the richest men in the world), its golden restoration after its decrepit state, and revealed the hidden fakeness ici et là. A master at captivating his guests, no one ever yawned. The Villa is an artwork in itself; its olive wood doors show swirling patterns of knots, the entire art deco facade is richly outlined in gold, which at night turns into a fun light show for cars racing by. The exhibition 'La Route Bleue' was also quite appealing.


An old rowing boat was sinking into the floor, its bow curling back like a scorpion's tail whose stinger was radiating blue in restraint. From the side, the object was a menacing three meter wave dropping onto passersby. 

Opposite this, a towering dark blue circle with five smaller white circles was buttoned onto the wall. When I put my glasses on, the white circles were made up of thousands of + signs, some forming tentacles from within. In addition to this, I am positive that a sea of blue pluses surrounded these mathematically drawn islands.

Hanging between two floors, a plant lit by its own golden flowers bloomed upon Egyptian blue lily pads. Amazingly, the plant was entirely made from paper; there is no limit to such a skilled artist. 

There were many other artworks in the exhibition which I'm not going to give away; I want to make it worth the visit. 

William Masschelein, Grade 10 Student


This visit was the fourth in a series of outings where the ISB Community was invited to explore the vibrant and exciting artistic milieu in the Brussels area.


If you are interested in participating in future outings please contact Christine de Lannoy-Clervaux, Head of Visual Arts