Beyond the North Sea stands contemporary art in Dunkerque, with FRAC and LAAC6 min read
In front of the North Sea stands the beautiful city of Dunkirk, rich from historical facts but also from its contemporary projects, illuminated by numerous architectural masterpieces and as a center of Contemporary Art in the Hauts-de-France.
Rejuvenated by a dynamic cultural offer, Dunkirk offers many art centers, able to bewitch your venue with unsuspected artworks… This is the case of the LAAC (Place of Contemporary Art and Action) and the FRAC Grand Large (Regional Fund for Contemporary Art), that we would introduce you in this article. A good invitation to daydream in complete communion with seafront, where occurs a non-stop theater of illuminations. By AP
Nestled along the beautiful Côte d’Opale, the FRAC Grand Large has developed, since its creation in 1982, a true art collection and funds focused on design. Established on several levels, thus representing several exhibition spaces.
Built in 1949, the large edifice on the left, also known as AP2 for former “Prefabrication Workshop No. 2″, used to be a factory for Dunkirk shipyards. This is naturally a real place of memory and a geographical landmark that has deeply marked the local industrial history and aims to continue to play a role nowadays. Therefore, the FRAC Grand Large has duplicated this hall as “the Cathedral”, this edifice imposes itself with its 75m long silhouette on the Dunkirk coast. Designed by the architects Lacaton & Vassal, who chose to pursue the ancestral identity, without making any changes to the original AP2 Hall.
In addition, this duet has proposed to juxtapose in the immediate vicinity of this 1949 factory, an identical building with the same dimensions but with a futuristic design. By the way, don’t miss the Belvedere area, located at the top floor, where is exhibited a magnificent suspended metallic laundry artwork realized by Ana Lupas, nearby some movies played in dark rooms. Among them, two documentaries about auction sessions and life moments in Le Corbusier‘s city in Chandigarh.
At the first level, we thus find two exhibitions in April 2022, including the one imagined by Bruno Serralongue, focusing on the migrant camps of Calais. In addition, you can also admire the work of Angevyr Padilla, born in Caracas, with her terracotta sculptures and a video made in heaps.
A little further on, stands another exhibition, called “La Nef des Fous”, inspired by the eponymous painting by Dutch painter Jérôme Bosch. This exhibition highlights a period of crisis and loss of moral, social and aesthetic landmarks. It is divided into three parts, comprising sets of very different objects, assembled in a narrative way by the exhibition curator. It turns out that some pieces, like these Tupperwares, are even assembled in this Northern region.
Another part of this art installation is devoted to our relationship to mass consumption around kitchen utensils from different eras. This is extended by exceptional pieces of tableware, mainly made from fine metal or silver, including some unique pieces created in a granulation form by David Huycke.
Once returned to the ground level, the following exhibition focuses on the concept of “La Couleur de L’Eau”, which is particularly likely to give an inventory of the health of the various oceans. This graphic study is carried out by Nicolas Floc’h, also passionate about creation around monochrome.
This artist aims to capture these water colors in the Baie de Somme but also in various oceans, interior seas and rivers, including lately presently the Mississippi and the Rhone rivers. Nicolas Floc’h admits that he wants to transform “the invisible visible” and thus help to study threatened ecosystems. He thus tends to apprehend the massive mass of water as a pictorial, sensitive and immersive space, but also as a fabulous ecological regulator, populated by phytoplankton, which actively participates in the various gas exchanges between atmosphere and ocean.
In addition to that, a couple of sculptures are proposed and also refer to this underwater environment, evoking this sedimentation of these phytoplanktons which are “invisible in their uniqueness and visible in their multiplicity”. A sedimentation, carried out over several million years, which contributed to the oil formation and also to that of limestone rocks including the famous blue stones of Hainaut. This minimalist but intense exhibition is produced in collaboration with the artconnexion structure, an art center based in Lille and included in the context of Lille 3000 program, as part of the “this sea that surrounds us” project.
If you are an archives enthusiast, do not miss, under the event space of the Belvedere, endowed with an impregnable view on the North Sea, to explore the FRAC reserves facilitating the transfers of the possible 2000 artworks.
FRAC Grand Large – Hauts-de-France, 503 Avenue des Bancs de Flandres, 59140 Dunkerque (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)3 28 65 84 20. More information on the official website.
Then, still in Dunkirk, located not far from this previous FRAC, you are invited to visit the LAAC museum. This museum was born from the donation of Gilbert Delaine, and notably his art collection of more than a thousand of masterpieces, mainly from the 1960s and 1970s, which he donated to the municipality, in 1981. This edifice was conceived by Jean Willerval before being inaugurated in 1982 and which therefore celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022. This singular art center welcomes you surrounded by an artificial body of water.
In addition, a portico, made by the inspired artist Philippe Scrive, in supposedly rot-proof azobé wood, makes the link with this surrounding garden, as well full of original art installations. Once inside, discover the different spaces dedicated to permanent collections, mostly completed by one of the richest collections of CoBrA artworks in France, lyrical and informal abstraction currents. Don’t also miss the giant agora, able to host workshops and conferences, plus a jukebox library!
This year, until October 9, 2022, an exhibition dedicated to the Belgian state of mind is proposed, under the name of “Belgitudes” and celebrates another anniversary.
Indeed, most of the 150 artworks presented in this installation therefore come from the huge art collection (which has more than 12,000 items) that the passionate and inveterate Belgian collector Maurice Vibaert devoted 50 years of his life to assiduously assembling. For other purposes, it is also possible to connect directly with this Belgian collector through his gallery based in Knokke-le-Zoute, where many activities take place including conferences and films. In this space of biographical expression, we find the main favorites that Maurice Vibaert had the pleasure to share you.
In this singular exhibition space with cylindrical volumes and among this set of a thousand colors, you will find in particular artistic currents as diverse and varied as figurative expression, abstract gestures or even Pop Art…
At the same level as the permanent collection (pictured below), discover notably different geometrically constituted creations, as shown by the style of Guy Vandenbranden, or other more monumental pieces, like these mobiles by Willy Anthoons. By browsing through all of these heterogeneous works of Belgian modern art, mainly centered on the post-war period to the present day, you will notice that Maurice Vibaert has mainly concentrated on the acquisition of artworks realized by little-known artists, even fallen into disuse for some of them.
LAAC (Lieu d’Art et Action Contemporaine) / 302 Avenue des Bordées, 59140 Dunkerque (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)3 28 29 56 00. More information on the official website.