Eva was born and raised in Brussels where she studied Contemporary Art History and Cultural Management. As far as she can remember she was always fascinated and passionate about anything related to art and culture, but mostly about the people who have the ability to create and transmit an idea through any kind of medium. During the last four years she has been living and working in Tel Aviv and London. She started a blog, The Bubblist, to share her experience with the local art scenes while still keeping an eye on Brussels.
Art in Brussels
What is your background in art?
I’ve studied contemporary art history and cultural management in Brussels’s university. During my studies I was an intern at Almine Rech Gallery and realized that the gallery format was not for me. I also worked for film festivals, and organized my first exhibition last year in Brussels. I’m currently working for a Design Studio in London, so art and creation is always in my life.
On your blog, The Bubblist, you write about contemporary art and culture in London, Tel Aviv, and Brussels. What makes the contemporary art scene in Brussels unique?
These three art scenes are totally different. I would say that what makes Brussels art scene so unique it’s the Belgian je ne sais quoi. We have amazing local and international galleries and fairs, but somehow they seem more accessible and relax than in London or New York. Belgians are more laidback, and you can feel it in the way they are dealing with art and culture as well. There is also room for alternative art spaces, and I also believe that life in Brussels is more affordable for artists which is very important.
Who are your favorite local artists in Brussels?
Most of my favorite Belgian artists are actually not from Brussels like Michael Borremans or Luc Tuymans.
What is your favorite place to see art in Brussels?
At 67 Rue de la Régence, a few major local and international galleries (like Dvir Gallery, Rod Barton, Independent, etc.) decided to gather together in two big buildings. The one on the back was an old printing factory. It’s a cool concept. I also like Bozar, Wiels, Almine Rech, and Super Dakota.
Is there an especially good time for art-lovers to come to Brussels?
April for sure. You have Art Brussels, the Independent Art Fair (the first edition was last year and it was a big success), Poppositions (an alternative art fair), YIA Art Fair, and OFF Course Art Fair (focusing on emerging talents). April is hectic in Brussels.
Brussels Greatest Hits
We all love the fries, the waffles, and the chocolate – what are your favorite Belgian foods that don’t get enough attention?
Good question. Does beer count as food? I love Belgian “girly” beers like Pecheresse and Kriek that you don’t find easily abroad. I also love Carbonade flamande, which is a sweet and sour beef and onion stew. It’s not a very sexy or glamorous dish but it’s delicious.
What are your favorite restaurants in Brussels?
Kokuban, Umamido, l’Amour fou, Schievelavabo, Comptoir des Galeries, Kokob, and Dam Sum. I also like having lunch at Le Dillens. Little Tokyo is also a must go. One of their chefs made my birthday cake this year and it was amazing.
What are your three favorite sites to see in Brussels?
Les Marolles is one of the oldest areas in Brussels. Known for its flea market and its old typical bars, you can also find plenty of antique and interior design stores. I like Mont des Arts as well. When you are on the top, close to the museums, you have a beautiful view of Brussels. My third choice would be the Sablon area. I just love to join the Marolles or the city center from there. It’s beautiful and all our famous chocolatiers can be found there.
Where is the best shopping in Brussels?
It depends on what you are looking for, but I like le Chatelain area for its little boutiques, and les Marolles for design and interior design.
What should people to know about Belgium? Why should they visit?
Every time I meet people who visited Belgium for the first time they all say, “I went there with zero expectation thinking it will be slightly boring, and I absolutely loved it.” There is a lot to do and to discover in Belgium, from the seaside to the Ardennes. We have beautiful cities filled with history like Bruges or Antwerp, some of the best music festivals in Europe, an eclectic culture scene, delicious beer, and we are very friendly.
How did you decide to move to Tel Aviv, and then to London?
I fell in love with Tel Aviv almost seven years ago, and after I graduated. My boyfriend and I decided to move there for three years for him to complete his Bachelor’s degree. There is no other place like Tel Aviv for me – the vibes, the spirit, the people, the food, and the struggles as well make this place so unique. It was one of the most interesting experiences of my life so far, and I recommend to everyone to travel there sometimes regardless of your political opinions.
We moved to London to be closer from home (Belgium for me, Ireland for him). London is an electric city, there is a lot going on, and we thought that it was a good moment in our lives to have our “London experience”. Unlike many places in Europe, you have great jobs opportunities, you meet people from all around the world and the energy is insane. I spent a month at the Sotheby’s Institute about two years ago, and discovering the London art scene was so exciting that I wanted to spend more time here.
As an ex-pat, what do you miss about Brussels?
Calm. London is stressful and loud.
After about a year away, what do you miss about Tel Aviv?
Walking in the empty streets on Friday night just before Shabbat starts. The ratatouille from Port Said. My friends.
What do you like about being an ex-pat in London? What do you find difficult about it?
I’m curious by nature. I like discovering new places and new people, and London is the perfect playground for that. What I find difficult is that London is not a very warm and spontaneous city. Going from Tel Aviv to London was a difficult transition.
What are your favorite new things you’ve experienced in London?
Coffee. I was not drinking coffee before moving to London. I love the coffee shop culture here. I also love walking in London, I put my sneakers on, my music on, and I can walk kilometers every weekend to discover new areas, new paths, and new spots. I also love the fact that museum are free. It’s great to be able to stop by from time to time.
If you had to pick another country to live in next, where would it be?
In my wildest dreams it would be Japan. I’m completely obsessed with their culture, and would love to learn more about it.
All photos by The Bubblist