Back in 2016, Wallpaper* collaborated with Pullman Hotels and Resorts and Switzerland’s Louisa Gagliardi to create an artist-in-residence programe at Pullman’s King’s Cross outpost in London. Less than a year later, the project has spawned an even more ambitious, global initiative: the Artist Playground.
Continuing Pullman Hotels’ commitment to design, art and photography and the group’s desire to connect to the distinctive culture of the world’s most exciting and vibrant cities, the Artist Playground collaborates with local artists and designers. Part gallery, part studio, wholly unexpected and inspiring, the Pullman Artist Playground is an innovative art corner which blends elements of indigenous interest, cultural intrigue and visual ingenuity creating new experiences for guests and visitors.
With management taking on the role of independent curator, scouting for local talent at art colleges, universities, community centres and galleries, each Artist Playground project provokes new possibilities in the presentation, production and curation of the artists’ work.
The Artist Playground programme has already been implemented in Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bali, Shanghai and Aachen. For Belgium’s debut Artist Playground venture, Wallpaper* and Pullman invited artlead.net – Europe’s premium online marketplace for contemporary art – to curate an exhibition at Pullman’s Centre Midi Hotel in Brussels. Thomas Caron, founder of artlead.net, chose Dutch artist Bas Van den Hurk who has showed his work at galleries and museums in Los Angeles, Cologne, Paris, Barcelona, New York and Amsterdam, to show his series entitled The Circus Is In Town.
Van den Hurk's signature style – abstract expressionist brushstrokes and silk prints – is evident in the work which references modernist masters such as Sonia Delaunay and Pablo Picasso. The pieces function as both one large installation an as ten unique and individual works.
‘I am interested in how Bas blends different modernist styles and techniques to create his very own voice,’ says Thomas Caron. ‘At a first glance, his paintings are dangerously seductive, with their attractive silk surfaces, deconstructed silk-screened patterns and elegant, oil paint touches. But if you look past the surface, at his selection and combination of references and at how he includes his paintings in installations that incorporate both architectural and sculptural elements as well as clothes, these works go so much deeper. I really like how they open up and take the modernist adagio of mixing art and life into the 21st century.’
Caron started artlead.net to ‘help guide people into a world that often isn’t transparent enough’. The internet-based business collaborates with museums, galleries and non-profits across Europe to curate a selection of affordable artworks. He says, ‘We organise art in public space projects, because for a lot of people that is still their first encounter with contemporary art. I think it’s important to reach out to as many people as possible, introduce them to art and as such enrich their lives.’
Caron’s latest artlead.net project is the Billboard Series. He explains, ‘We build a 50 sq m billboard in a rapidly gentrifying area of Ghent in order to foster a productive long-term dialogue with the changing neighbourhood and urban landscape. Every three months, we commission another artist to make a new work for this billboard – most of them are Belgium-based.’ Thus, the spirit of the Artist Playground extends its influence across the Belgium art scene.