Open House — A Modernist Belgian Bungalow
By Claire Walsh
When travelling I make a point of visiting an artist’s studio or home. They satisfy my curiosity (read innate nosiness) about how creative lives are lived. I have asked myself what I am looking for on these visits? Inspiration, information and perspective? Yes, but I also think it is relatability. Beds, bathrooms and coffee cups are the universal objects that form the basis of day-to-day activity. By seeing someone’s belongings and imagining their everyday life I perhaps hope to feel more connected to my own.
When viewed through the right lens, the mundane becomes magnificent and ubiquitous is somehow less so. It confirms my belief that truly living your everyday will provide the best foundation for the self, a strong baseline that can steady you as you deal with the outsized and unexpected stuff that life can and will throw at you.
In a series of articles for Patter, we will surface amazing homes and studios around the world that are open to the public, and hope to convey the intimacy of these spaces to our readers, bringing to life the stories of those who lived there. Our first, is the home, studio and garden of Belgian artist Luc Peire and his wife Jenny Verbruggen in Knokke, on the Belgian coast.
Peire and Verbruggen travelled extensively during the early days of their partnership and the artist worked in studios all over the world including Mexico, New York and the Belgian Congo (now Republic of the Congo). Their rootless existence settled when they moved to Paris in 1959. From then they would winter in Paris and summer in their Knokke home. Having started as a figurative painter Peire evolved to ‘abstract verticalism’. Over time his figures were reduced to stark lines and spaces, something that is perfectly embodied in the lines and light of this space.
The couple’s interior embraces mid 20th century form and innovation, as did Peire’s work; the artist eventually did away with canvases, instead choosing to paint on Formica, an engineered material innovation of that period. Bold hits of saturated blue can be picked out in upholstery and Piere’s paintings that are hung throughout, becoming somewhat of a signature in the space. Recognisable, and now highly desirable furniture is dotted throughout. After some light furniture stalking on the internet I am happy to share that those boxy Wicker Easy Chairs by Danish designer Nanna Ditzel are produced today by Sika Design; so start saving.
As Piere’s work evolved from figure to abstract and then geometry, his mediums expanded to include film, sculpture and architecture. The site houses one of his more structural pieces ‘Environment I’, an mirrored room that presents the illusion of infinity. There is also a great ‘View Vault’ and small exhibition space in a functional building, added in 2003.
The home and studio is open by appointment, so contact the Luc Peire Foundation directly to arrange a visit.