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Organized by art historian Jan Hoet, the first edition of Middlegate took place in 2013. The aim was to bring together traditional artists and works by artists described as belonging to art brut. Ten years later, the Werft cultural center in Belgium, in partnership with S.M.A.K., invited Philippe Van Cauteren and Pierre Muylle to propose a contemporary response to that first 2013 edition.

This year, the curators propose a contemporary response, presenting over 50 international artists, including works by Julius Bockelt, Misleidys Castillo Pedroso, Tomasz Machciński, Harald Stoffers and Dominique Théate, as well as other artists from Créahm Brussels.

harald stoffers - © christian berst — art brut

Harald Stoffers

More than twenty years ago, Harald Stoffers began a fictional correspondence with his mother, in which all the letters started with «Liebe Mutti». He began this exercise at a workshop for people with disabilities at which he worked. He started by distributing them amongst his fellow workers in the form of small torn notes. Stoffers’ letters later thickened, some even reaching ten meters long. Presented in a film by Youssef Tabti at the Grand Palais in 2009, his work was included in such prestigious institutions as the Mona (Australia), the Hamburger Kunsthalle (Berlin), the Oliva Creative Factory (Portugal), the Dox Art Center (Prague) and the Maison rouge (Paris).
A significant number of his works was donated to the Centre Pompidou collection in 2021.

dominique théate - © eulalie toussaint, christian berst — art brut

Dominique Theate

In his eighteens, while he got ready to start studying fine arts, a coma after a serious motorcycle accident changed the promising life of this young artist. The impossibility of recovery condemned Dominique Théte to fantasize about his life. This is why almost all his drawings are followed by a “Shema (sic) representing me…” where he stages different aspects of his fantasy life, whereas in the afternoon suit he would wear during his marriage, in a comedian loved by his audience, in a star singer, or in the reproduction of the numerous cars he dreams of. As Anne-Françoise Rouche implied: “Because he was stolen from his construction of common person, he is going to draw and to write that of[…]

portrait of misleidys castillo pedroso - © christian berst — art brut

Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso

This Cuban artist has no other means of expression than that of her creation. The walls of her home, where she lives with her mother, are covered with drawings of bodybuilders, brown tape scattered along the outlines. A true community of men, women, hermaphrodites and wildlife, Misleidys has built her sociality through her work. Discovered by the gallery in 2014, she has been featured in more than 10 international exhibitions since 2018, including New Images of Man in Los Angeles, Flying High in Vienna, and Independent in New York. Acclaimed by Matthew Higgs and Karen Wong (New Museum, NYC), the artist has been the subject of recent reviews in the New York Times and Art in America.
A significant number of his works was donated to the Centre Pompidou collection in 2021.

Julius Bockelt - © © Elena Osmann, christian berst — art brut

Julius Bockelt

A member of the renowned Goldstein workshop in Germany, this young artist is fascinated by the limits of perception. In his work, sounds, vibrations, waves and interferences are rendered visible. Bringing together observation and poetry, network structures emerge and create striking optical illusions. Exhibited in a gallery for the first time in 2020, Julius Bockelt has already been offered a monographic exhibition at the Folkwang Museum in Essen and has been presented at the Museum of Everything (London), the Maison rouge (Paris) and the MoNa in Brierdale (Australia). In 2023, he was exhibited alongside Gerhard Richter at the Museum Sainclair-Haus in Germany.

Tomasz Machcinski - © christian berst — art brut

Tomasz Machcinski

At a very young age, Tomasz Machciński built an identity around an autograph, addressed to him by an actress he believed to be his mother. From this confusion, which lasted more than twenty years, a protean and personal mythology was born that reconstructs the artist. As the image of the Ovidian myth, or Gregor Samsa, Tomasz Machciński cannot be described. Indeed, his work consists of multiple self-portraits of as many different physiognomies. Exhibited in 2019 at the Rencontres de la Photographie, his works are already part of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and the Museum of Photography in Krakow (Poland). In 2023, he is exhibited at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève in Chrysalides: le rêve du papillon.

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