City wanderings - and a pilgrimage to some of the best eating and drinking spots in Brussels. Or maybe not eating or drinking - ah, oh well.

Monday, January 24, 2011

La Fleur en Papier doré

"I don't know if this interests you", says the friendly man  in La Fleur en Papier doré, "but you're seated at the very table where René Magritte used to sit."   I have a closer look at the table in question.  It is certainly old, worn smooth by years of elbow rubbing, and covered with etched graffiti.  I am free to prod it, stroke it, spill my beer over it.  Yet much as I dutifully scan the surface, I can find no trace of the man. 

This is the only vaguely disappointing thing about La Fleur en Papier doré: despite being the meeting point for Belgium's surrealist scene, welcoming Scutenaire, Alechinsky, Magritte, Breton; despite the 406 framed prints and photographs that adorn the walls, the place is still somewhat lacking in, well, surrealist memorabilia.  Instead we are left with founder and art dealer Geert van Bruaene's mix-match collection of objects: Virgin Marys and antlers.  Save a couple of exceptions everything of value was sold, including any scribbles or sketches that might have been born here, in this place. 

Actually perhaps the most surreal thing is the 80's disco coming from the stereo, which feels completely at odds with these dim, curious surroundings.  I don't know what to make of it all, so I order another beer and immerse myself in contemplating the mysterious phrases on the walls, including my favourite; "Nul ne m'est etranger comme moi-même".   Then on comes Thank you for the music, and I can't help wondering what the surrealists would have made of this intrusion: would they have liked ABBA?  This place feels like a well-kept secret, but I'm left feeling a little bit cheated by what's missing: Magritte and his pals have eluded me.

Finally, I decide that none of this matters terribly much.  There are photos to peer over, conversations to be had in the gloom and a lengthy beer list to evaluate.  Since its careful restauration the bar's contents have been protected but the addition of extra seating and exhibition space suggests we should be looking forward.  This is not a museum, but is once more the place for art displays and monthly poetry readings.  Empty your mind of associations, ignore the brooding manor house interior and just draw or play chess.  It's what they would have wanted.

rue des Alexiens 55
1000 Brussels
02 511 16 59

No comments:

Post a Comment