One of the most interesting and inspiring things to do in Antwerp is to visit Axel Vervoordt at his converted industrial complex called Kanaal.
For 30 years Axel Vervoordt has been applying his unique ‘eye’ and ‘philosophy’ to antiques, to art and to design and the decorative arts.
He has worked constantly and consistently towards developing an ‘art of living’ that, in his words, ‘can transform the ordinary object into an objet d’art’.
Vervoordt has a deep respect for everything that is authentic and it is this fascination with the ‘spirit of things’ that allows him to engage in such a broad range of interests. From artists such as Anish Kapoor and Lucio Fontana, to Khmer Buddhas, Roman busts and weathered utilitarian objects; all things displayed at Kanaal embody the Japanese notion of ‘Wabi’ – a point in creativity at which only the essential remains.
Kanaal, a huge sprawling former distillery and malting complex that runs along the Albert Canal, is the perfect setting for Vervoordt’s vision. Unlike any other person in the world of the arts he approaches matters of aesthetics with a philosopher’s mind making room for paradox, contradiction, ambiguity and conflict.
It makes Kanaal far more interesting than a museum. The combination of furniture, art, objects, antiques, decorative items, textures, colours, patina etc. engages the brain and the heart in a manner that only such an original and singular vision can.
Most museums and galleries leave me feeling drained and exhausted. Kanaal inspires in a way that I don’t notice the time when I’m there and when I do leave, reluctantly, it is with renewed energy, vigour and inspiration.
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