(Bitter)sweet dreams on Heritage Day

19 Apr 2021

On 24 and 25 April, Heritage Day is celebrating its 20 th anniversary with a weekend of festivities entirely dedicated to the theme of The Night. In honour of this festive edition, we’ve delved into our content partners’ archives to revive nocturnal scenes that deserve to see the light of day again. This week we’re showcasing a painting by artist Frits Van den Berghe in part one of our trilogy.

Do you ever have those dreams when all your teeth fall out one by one? Or even worse: you’re too late for an important exam even though you left school years ago! We can certainly encounter some very strange things while we’re sleeping, so it’s no surprise that artists have been fascinated by this phenomenon for such a long time.

De Droom - Frits Van den Berghe

Image: The dream by Frits Van den Berghe. Source: Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, www.artinflanders.be/en, photo Hugo Maertens

Belgian artist Frits Van den Berghe (1883-1939) saw dreams as a way of exploring the subconscious. In his work entitled De droom (‘The dream’) from 1927, he takes us with him into a surreal dreamworld that feels like a nightmare.

In the centre, we see a colossal sleeping figure, apparently floating in a sea of blue. A fearsome yellow figure with a frightening look in its eyes is emerging from its belly. The red theatrical shape on his chest looks like a coffin on its own hands and feet. And on the right, a naked but veiled figure appears to be dancing on our unsuspecting protagonist’s body. The whole thing is bathed in mystery and saddles the viewer with a rather ominous feeling.

The dream is part of content partner Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens’ collection in Sint-Martens- Latem, where Van den Berghe lived for some time. He was a co-founder of the Latem Expressionism group and exerted significant influence on later generations of Belgian artists. The museum is currently temporarily closed for renovation work, but in the meantime you can see The dream via artinflanders.be. You can download this work for free for personal use, without altering it or distributing commercially.

Fancy bringing out your own night owl? Discover the Heritage Day activities that are taking place in your area here.

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