From the museum website, 8 August 2012
In the fall of 2012, the Lille Palais des Beaux-Arts museum will hold an international exhibition on 16th century Flemish landscapes. The marvellous and fabulous characteristics of these landscapes, which still arouse feelings of fascination, awe, or perplexity, will be revealed through a hundred works of art, At the dawn of the Mannerism movement landscapes stand out as the true subject of painting. Figures or Biblical stories were relegated to secondary importance by the desire to show the invisible, in order to produce an impression of infinity.
Flemish artists invented a new way of painting, which was both captivating and creative, at the boundary between reality and imagination. Nature became the place for myths and fables. Trees and rocks were given human characteristics, and the strangest creatures were placed alongside men who were conducting their daily occupations.
In these hybrid worlds a path for life is drawn for the spectator. The Flemish landscape is a terrestrial framework, which encourages the spectator to engage in thought. It becomes the passageway between physical reality and the spiritual world. These images show where the Christian faith and popular superstitions intertwined, where Beauty and the bizarre met, and where both the marvellous and the monstrous were present. Nature was written in a symbolic language, for which we no longer know all the codes. It carries us into a world which goes beyond our comprehension : cosmic, legendary, and infinite.
Created as vast compositions, the paintings in the exhibition “Flemish Landscape Fables of the 16th Century” reproduce the unremitting action of world forces, on a miniature universal scale. Thus the artist’s act of painting participates in the creative process.
These works of art are signed by famous masters such as Bosch, Brueghel, Met de Bles, Bril, or Patinir, but also by less wellknown but nonetheless brilliant artists, like Jan Mandijn or Kerstiaen de Keuninck. Their powerful message continues into the modern world, and has never ceased to be meaningful.
The exhibition is above and beyond an artistic opportunity. It is essentially the means of understanding the world around us.