Arts & Entertainment

Brussels exhibition showcases artistic polysemy of clouds

By Ricardo Ruiz Varo

Brussels, Oct 3 (EFE).- Clouds have long captured artists’ imaginations and now an exhibition in Brussels, one of Europe’s cloudiest cities, is showcasing how they have been used as a recurring element in the works of Belgian and international artists.

In scientific terms, a cloud is a mass of water droplets formed when water vapor condenses in the atmosphere, but artistically it can have a multitude of meanings.

The ‘Clouds: Yesterday and Today’ exhibition running until November 21 at the House of Arts in Brussels seeks to put together examples of this atmospheric element’s polysemy throughout the history of art.

Claire Leblanc, an organizer of the exhibition, tells Efe that the cloud functioned as “the door between reality and the ideal of religion” in ancient times, while for impressionists it was just a way of experimenting with art.

The cloud as an artistic subject developed significantly in the 19th century, especially in pre-impressionist landscape painting, according to Leblanc.

This pre-impressionist experimentation of clouds can be seen through a work of art by Eugène Verboeckhoven, a 19th-century Belgian artist who had his studio in the neighborhood where the exhibition is being held. He painted a grayish cloud cluster in what appears to be a sketch for future works.

The exhibition also showcases several works by other Belgian artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Oswald Poreau, whose ‘La Coulée’ shows smoke coming from chimneys of a factory contrasting with the red color of a fire and the gray color of the clouds.

 In Victor Fontaine’s mythological artwork, clouds appeared in the background as a symbol of divine protection.

However, when the Contemporary Era arrived, the cloud went from being a tool for experimentation to becoming a “very prolific” symbol, Leblanc explains.

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