Surrounded by more corporate high-rises, the brand new Tim Van Laere Gallery stands out for its cool warehouse-look. On closer inspection, it exists of five different rooms in concrete that are following each other like an enfilade, yet the façade emphasises the small distance between each volume. Each block has a different length and height, which creates rhythm and translates the various functions of the programme. The left building, without any windows but the name Tim Van Laere spelled out in big letters, is the storage room. The second, higher building which consists of the entrance is called ‘the house’. It is also the only unit that has two floors with more office space and smaller showrooms, leading to a rooftop with an impressive view on the Scheldt. The next unit is the so-called ‘white cube’, where overwhelming sculptures and paintings are on view by Jonathan Meese, a German artist with a sense of Sturm und Drang (the 18th century German artistic movement where works were filled with rousing action and high emotionalism, and often dealt with an individual rebelling against the injustices of society) who clearly can use the space at his disposal. In that room, there is also a big painting by the Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie whose works can reach up to six digits and a big charcoal drawing by Rinus Van de Velde, the Belgian art market darling who also contributed to the gallery becoming a household name for the non-initiated. As his shows were such a success, the gallery that was formerly housed in a non-descriptive building in the Verlatstraat at Zuid often let to traffic jams and chaos, hence the need to move to bigger premises.
The outside concrete walls of the building look solid and have been cast on the spot. As the architects explain: ‘We have been thinking a long time about prefab. Luckily we haven’t done it, as the entire district is already prefab in a way. For this building, we wanted something more solid, more rooted. We cast it with multiplex wood, which gives the concrete a nice texture and warmth.’ The shutters also reinforce the sense of rhythm. When they are open, they are white. When closed, they have the same pink as in the sculptures and objects of Franz West (1947-2012), the iconic artist who was also represented by the gallery and was institutional in its international growth. The ‘Franz West pink’ also recurs in other elements inside the building, like the bookshelves.