Lempertz, an international auction house with a historical
‘Great Exhibition Room’ in central Brussels, is proud to present
“Polynesian Art”, a new museum exposition that will run from May
25th to June 30th, 2023. It will showcase a range of important
artworks and objects from Polynesia, a region that spans over
1,000 islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean, including New
Zealand, Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and Easter Island.
Polynesia is well-known for its rich cultural heritage, traditional
beliefs, and a strong shared heritage of sailing, exploration
and settling on islands in one of the largest geographic regions
on the planet. First peopled with travelers from East Asia, the
wider diaspora commenced about 1500 years ago, spreading
from Tahiti to the triangular corners of New Zealand, Easter
Island and Hawaii.
The exhibition “Polynesian Art” allows visitors to learn more
about Polynesia’s unique relationship with Belgium, as Belgium
has many historical connections to Polynesia. Most well known
is the mission station and health care center provided by
Father Damian at Hawaii’s Molokai Island in the 19th century.
Also, Belgians such as J.A Moerenhout, were early chroniclers
of life in Polynesia and whose reportages provide important
documentation on the early periods of contact between
European visitors and local inhabitants. Later, Belgium was
home to several Catholic mission stations, such as the Sacred
Hearts at Braine l’Alleud, where many Polynesian artworks
from this period were brought before being presented to the
museum at the Vatican.
In 1934 a Belgo-French expedition sailed from Antwerp on the
ship Mercator to Polynesia where a team led by Henri Lavachery
and Alfred Metraux did valuable archaeological research on
Easter Island. The exhibition “Polynesian Art” allows visitors to
learn more about Polynesia’s unique relationship with Belgium,
as well as about Polynesia’s rich heritage and Belgium’s role in
exploring and documenting it.
Belgium has a long tradition of admiring Oceanic art, with
many important pieces housed in museums and private
collections throughout the country. René Gaffé, a Belgian
journalist, art collector and critic, is one such individual who
owned an impressive collection of Polynesian art. His influential
texts and books on the subject have contributed to a greater
understanding and appreciation of Polynesian culture.
This special exhibition is an opportunity to see a selection
of around 225 stunning artworks from Polynesia, including
sculptures, textiles, and carvings, and which were mostly never
before or publicly rarely seen. Visitors will be able to learn about
the region’s history, culture, and traditions and gain a deeper
appreciation of its unique artistic heritage. A fully illustrated
catalogue documenting the exhibition with texts by George
Nuku, Anne Van Cutsem, Bernard de Grunne, Kevin Conru,
and Tim Teuten will be available.
The “Polynesian Art” exhibition will be held at the Great Room,
Lempertz, located at 6 rue du Grand Cerf, 1000 Brussels. Art
enthusiasts are invited to come and experience this event,
which promises to be a highlight of the art calendar in Brussels.