In the search of Utopia

Dream Worlds

Chapter 2

Art between heaven and hell

Utopia is not only the story of dreams and ideals. Failure and disappointment are also characteristics of the search for a new society. The dream remains intact or it becomes a nightmare. This duality determines the character of the second aspect of the exhibition: success or failure.


Utopia illustrates both. More underscores the importance of harmony: from the redistribution of wealth to equal opportunity for all: rich, poor, man, woman. There is freedom of religion and even taboo subjects like euthanasia are commonly practiced. But the ideal world also has shadowy sides. People are excluded and forbidden access to places where they might enjoy life. How recognizable! To emphasize this duality, there are two spaces: the utopia and its opposite, the dystopia.


A striking example of the ideal world is the Festival of the Archers by the Master of Frankfurt. You see a group of people in a pleasant garden enjoying all good things. But the anonymous painter isn’t blind to the other reality: another group of people is kept away from the feast by armed guards. The gate is closed. Uninvited guests are not welcome.


Another expression of the perfect world is the breathtakingly beautiful Enclosed Gardens. These little masterpieces, which were specially restored for the exhibition, are representation of an ideal, spiritual and heavenly world.


The underside of utopia, the dystopia, is highlighted in a separate space. There you will find an intense interplay of passion, devotion and terror. Rare beauty and horrific inhumanity come together to create incredible tension. Artists make breath-taking depictions of the fires of hell from which it seems impossible to escape. This is a unique opportunity to see masterpieces by Flemish Masters that are being exhibited at M temporarily, so don’t miss it.