The BOZAR Museum in Brussels is hosting the exquisite exhibition NAUTILUS that can still be visited till Sunday April 25, 2014. It is meant to highlight the close relationship between the ancient Greeks and the Mediterranean Sea – a quite understandable subject and certainly reason enough to have a look at the artifacts that are otherwise spread over many museums or that have never left the country.
It is no surprise to first be confronted with statues and pot-shards belonging to the Cyclades which go back to 3,000 BC. Then follow vases, bowls, drawings, reliefs and small bronzes from Minoan and Mycenaean times. One of the striking objects is the life-size fresco of a fisherman from 1,600-1,500 BC graciously on loan from the Archaeological Museum of Thera. Fitting in the Mycenaean era are a set of gold cups hammered out with curly motives dating from 1550-1500 BC found in a tomb and on loan from the Archeological Museum of Pylos. From one small room to the next, the visitor is taken consecutively through Greece’s archaic, classical and Hellenistic periods – more to my own taste, of course. There are theater masks, several reliefs from minor but not less interesting museums, and even an elegant bronze statuette of a boy riding a dolphin from the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
But then I freeze in my steps for here is Alexander the Great staring at me from the top of his transparent supporting pillar. What is he doing here? No idea, but I immediately recognize the head that belongs in the Museum of Pella where I missed it during my latest visit. Well, well, … good to see my friend!
Nearby, a series of coins are also exhibited with among them a silver tetradrachm of Alexander, a gold stater of Alexander and a gold stater of Ptolemy I Soter. Well, useless to say that in spite of the pleasant tour of the exhibition Alexander made my day!
In the last room and apparently rescued from the sea, where three splendid bronzes from Roman times, 2nd century AD: a statue of an unknown man, a magnificent head of a man with inlaid eyes wearing a Macedonian kausia, and the front part of a life-size dolphin.
All along the exhibition, the antique objects are intermingled with contemporary art, to what purpose I do not know. I don’t feel that these modern paintings and sculptures are adding anything at all to this exhibition. The photographs of seascapes on the contrary do reflect a taste of Greece and its seafarers in eons past.