Letter from Karel Geirlandt to Paul De Vree and Jack Schelfhout, 28.03.1963
27.02 – 05.03
Karel Geirlandt (1919-1989), lawyer and chairman of the Association for the Museum of Contemporary Art of Ghent (VMHK), and Paul De Vree (1909-1982), teacher and chairman of the National Center for Modern Art, worked constructively together in 1961 and 1962 to realize two Forum exhibitions in the St. Peter's Abbey in Ghent. In 1963 they join forces again to set up a third edition.
In March 1963, however, a real power struggle took place between the Ghent based lawyer and his Antwerp counterpart, who teamed up with his loyal ally Jack Schelfhout. At stake is the Forum Fund, a non-profit association that was set up after joint consultation. De Vree and Schelfhout consider Forum as "an art exhibition that the National Center for Modern Art could possibly realize in collaboration with its association members", while Geirlandt sees the expo as an "autonomous manifestation, the importance of which legitimates its own management body [read: the Forum Fund]". After a lot of letters back and forth and a meeting at Geirlandt's house, all differences are ironed out.
Shortly afterwards, when the artists are invited to participate in Forum 63, it becomes clear who has won the battle. The invitation is sent on behalf of the Forum Fund. The account number stated on the letterhead is also that of the new association. Karel Geirlandt and his allies comme off best.
On June 1, 1963, Forum 63 opens its doors in the St. Peter's Abbey. With 51 foreign and 39 Belgian participants, the third edition of Forum is the most extensive and prestigious, but also the last edition.
Thanks to: Simon Delobel, Toni Geirlandt, Carlos Montalvo, Oriana Lemmens, Cateau Robberechts.
The Letters Project
In 2022-2023, KIOSK together with the research group Ghent, playing field of the visual arts (1957-1987), will focus on letters from or to people from Ghent, or concerning the Ghent art scene. The letters are selected for their content, but also for their form.
For a whole year, the group will present a different letter every week in KIOSK, and will highlight its context or the questions it raises. During these presentations, the letter (or a facsimile) will be shown, possibly with other artefacts that are mentioned or that can clarify its meaning.
Ghent, playing field of the visual arts (1957-1987) consists of Naninga Lens, Sofie Frederix, Wouter De Vleeschouwer, Koen Brams and Godart Bakkers. For The Letters Project the group is reinforced by Simon Delobel and some guests.