Sophie Whettnall, artist from Brussels, Belgium. Photography © Coline Vanbelhingen

1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.

I am an artist who began exhibiting quite early on with Albert Baronian Gallery in Belgium and later with Galleria Continua in Italy and currently work with Michel Rein Gallery in Brussels and in Paris. In 1999 I received the Belgian Art Prize.

In 2007 I was invited by Robert Storr to the 52nd Venice Biennale for the internationnal pavillion. I have also exhibited in Foundation Mirò in Barcelona, MAMAM in Brazil, CGAC Santiago de Compostelle, Tank in Shanghai and last year a solo survey at the Centrale for Contemporary Art Brussels.

2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?

I love the Kröller-Müller Museum because when i was a child I had my first strong feelings about art looking at the Mondrian paintings there.

Later, when I was a teenager on my first trip to New York, I discovered the Frick collection. It was such a strong experience to suddenly find myself surrounded by all those old masters in a quiet museum in the middle of such a huge busy city. I felt so lucky and also right at home. Of course I adore the Guggenheim Museum as well with that long spiral promenade linking the architecture with the work of art.

When I was a student in Florence I had free access to the Uffizi Galleries and the library so I spent many hours looking at all the beautiful engravings and making copies of the Italian masters as well as Dürer and Bosch.

Drilling for light, 2015. Galerie Michel Rein, Brussels. © Courtesy of the artist

I lived in Madrid for two years and quickly developed the habit of visiting the Prado to see the Goya and the Las Meninas of Velázquez and my favorite of all Patinier. I was going there almost every day just to have a “Chupito” of just one painting.

I am also fancinated by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Napoli and the Glyptothek in Munich! And to finish with some contemporary museums, I love MOMA of course and the Hammer, the DIA Beacon, Pompidou and the Wiels in Brussels.

3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why.

I doubt my skills in using social networks, but I do have a website. I regularly post on Instagram but it’s not a priority for me! I might be wrong, because I suspect that its a powerful medium, but my priority reamain my committment to the research I am doing in my studio.

4.What are your future projects? 

I have a very busy 2021 and hoping that everything will not be postponed  once again. I am working on couple of architectural public projects and enjoying the freedom of the large scale. I feel very comfortable with the ambition of scale because the city transforms into a playground!

I will also have a few solo shows at Michel Rein Gallery in Paris, the Bozar Museum in Brussels and Reggio Emilia in Cloister of San Pietro which is such an amazing building.

5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?

I would encourage greater social contact and connection between the art and the audeince through performences and talks. It would be so important post-covid for artists to invite their audience to share human contact again, to help people get back together in the safety of community.

We have spent most of this year lost in self isolation and confinement so it would be great for artists to embrace their audiance with shared experiences and a physical engagement. I am all for performance and sharing experience right now!

Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist


Sophie Whettnall on social networks: Instagram

Sophie Whettnall (Brussels, 1973) is a Belgian multidisciplinary artist who exlpores sculpture, installations, video art, drawing and performance in which she relates the body and the context that surrounds it. Light, colors and shapes are just some aspects with which Whettnall investigates her sensory experience, especially during performances, where each vibration analyzes the concept of absence and presence of perceptions.

Her works have been exhibited, among others, at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Salt Lake City), MAC’s, Site du Grand Hornu (Hornu), DOT. Project (London), Galleria Continua (Italy), Leal Rios Foundation (Barcelona), Centrale for Contemporary Art (Brussels), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), Museu de Arte Moderna Aloisio Magalhães (Recife), CGAC (Santiago de Compostella ) and the COAC (Barcelona). Sophie Whettnall lives and works in Brussels.