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Collecting art has become a passion for many Belgians. Thomas and Keti are one of them. They have been collecting new and contemporary art for the last 10 years. Recently I had the chance to meet them at the exhibition ‘Da-No: Embryology of Inspiration’ taking place at Welnis Galerie in Koksijde for an insightful interview.


Thomas, Marina, Keti at the exhibition ‘Da-No: Embryology of Inspiration’, Welnis Galerie, Koksijde

MK: When and why did you start collecting art?
Thomas: It was in early 2000s. What happened was that I’ve visited a flea market in Tbilisi and bought a vintage soviet poster, which inspired me to continue the series. This, led me on to other art forms like paintings, interior objects and books. Then, we bought the house that we still live in, and wanted to enhance it.

MK: What makes contemporary art interesting?
ThomasThat there is no one way of making art anymore, it is very varied and diversified, and that’s what makes it so startling.

MKWhat is the decisive factor when you purchase an art piece?
ThomasIt is very simple – I buy with my heart and with my mind. My heart tells me what I like, and my mind tells me whether it fits in our interior.

MK: Which are your favourite pieces in your collection?
ThomasIt is hard to tell as it changes often. As I’ve said, I have quite a good collection of Soviet propaganda posters but additionally contemporary art by French artist Tehos is present as well as the “Capricorn” litho from Dali’s zodiac collection. A couple of Belgian expressionist painters also found their place on our walls. These artworks are very important to me, and I enjoy them very much. I like to look at them and think back in time, I like to study them, and each time I look at them I discover new thoughts.

‘Lenin Cream’ by Tehos

‘Capricorn’ by Salvador Dalí

Painting by Patrick Heughe

MK: Is there a unifying theme to your collection?
Thomas: No, there’s no particular subject or theme. I like to say that they are works that I find inspirational, the works that give our family joy, works that give us mental relief. But I also want to look at works that help me retain a level of criticality about the world. I want to look at a work and find an echo of certain sentiments about my life, or to have those feelings complicated. We have a litho of the local artist Roger Raveel, it’s a dark work “De Leie 1973”, for example, and I look at that work, when I want to sort of unsettle my mundanity or to re-focus imagination.

Artist Sara Maino at work

MK: Why out of 83 works exhibited at the Welnis Galerie you bought the ‘Untitled blue’?
Thomas: My wife and I like things that make us think. There’s nothing wrong with pretty works, but we are attracted to things – and people- that challenge us intellectually. All of Sara’s works on show are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also full of visual metaphors. A good abstract painting is like a good biography – the thing that makes a story interesting is not the facts or events, but the feelings and motivations of the people involved. These kinds of paintings allow us to understand something important about ourselves and the world around. What mostly appealed us in this painting is that it seems to move somewhere, there can be clouds or waves, whatever you’d like to imagine, but this piece, looking at it, will definitely take you beyond an imaginary world.

‘Untitled Blue’ by Sara Maino

MK: Most people who know you mention that you’re a bit of a homebody. You have your wife and kids, and you’re all living with these works together. It’s great to hear that there are these educational moments for kids, and from such a young age as well.
Thomas: It’s just nice to have children growing up in that sort of environment, you know, because I didn’t have that. It’ll be great to see what that means for them, and how they develop. Sometimes, I am thinking my daughter’s (she is a football player) creativity on and off the field is due to the way we try to raise them up – with a lifelong interest in the arts. Same goes to our son who very often surprises us by thinking about school tasks in non-trivial ways.

The  art and poetry exhibition
‘Da-No: Embryology of Inspiration’ is open to the public from Saturday July 30 to Sunday August 21, 2022, at the Galerie Welnis (Astridplein 6, Oostduinkerke, Belgium); it is curated and organised by the municipality of Koksijde. The Pre-opening took place on July 29, 2022.

By Marina Kazakova