babelTo the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille for two contemporaneous exhibitions, one on the theme of contemporary artistic representations of the tower of Babel, and the other on the theme of ‘fables in the Flemish sixteenth century landscape’. The revelation, for me, in the Babel exhibition was a number of young Chinese artists (Yang Yongliang and Zenjen Du in particular) working particularly in sophisticated video installations, such as Infinite Landscape, which take and re-imagine old Euro-centric ideas and forms, such as landscape itself. Which brings me to the second exhibition. Leaving aside the fact that it was badly laid out, so that on a busy Sunday the crushes around the Bosches and the Breughels made ordered viewing impossible, this was also a rich and pedagogic experience. Landscape in painting developed out of a need to fill in the background behind the representations of saints, the nativity, and so on. The great Flemish artists turned landscape painting into an art form in its own right, as the many paintings in this exhibition illustrated. An unexpected discovery came in the basement of the museum, where there is a huge collection of eighteenth century scale models of fortified Flemish cities. Even without the two exhibitions, the visit to the museum would have been well worthwhile.