Fri, Jan 25, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Reading Belgium

This year’s Taipei International Book Exhibition includes exhibitions highlighting Belgian comic art, music, architecture and poetry

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Work by Belgian children’s book illustrator and writer Valeria Docampo.

Photo courtesy of TIBE

The 21st Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE, 台北國際書展) may help you to reconnect with your artistic self and your love of comic books. The theme country for the event, which is slated to open Wednesday and run through Feb. 4 at the Taipei World Trade Center (台北世界貿易中心), is Belgium, the birthplace of the Smurfs, Tintin and saxophones.

Located in Hall 1, the Belgian pavilion highlights the country’s music, architecture, poetry and comic art through a series of curated exhibitions. Twenty-two publishing companies from the European country will bring a wide array of books on topics ranging from history, literature and philosophy, to design and comic art.

“Belgium, like Taiwan, is a small country with a small population, and yet it enjoys a tremendous amount of energy and creativity. Through the exhibition, we want to focus on the country’s rich traditions and creative innovation at the same time,” said Huang Pao-ping (黃寶萍), executive director of the Taipei Book Fair Foundation (台北書展基金會), which organizes the annual event.

Speaking of traditions, the origin of saxophones is illuminated through an exhibition on Adophe Sax, the Belgian music instrument designer credited with inventing the musical instrument in the 1840s. As Hung pointed out, the Belgian invention has an interesting connection with Taiwan since a large percentage of the world’s saxophones are manufactured in Houli (后里), Greater Taichung.

Belgium’s renowned jazz saxophone player Steve Houben will perform with guitarist Quentin Liegeois on the fair’s opening day from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the Red Salon (紅沙龍), located in Hall 1. During his diverse music career, Houben has played with many music legends such as Chet Baker, Mike Stern and George Coleman.

Exhibition notes:

WHAT: Taipei International Book Exhibition (台北國際書展)

WHERE: Taipei World Trade Center (台北世界貿易中心) exhibition Hall 1 (一館), 5, Xinyi Rd Sec 5, Taipei City (台北市信義路五段5號), Hall 2 (二館), 3 Songlian Rd, Taipei City (台北市松廉路3號), and Hall 3 (三館), 6 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路6號)

WHEN: Wednesday, Thursday and Feb. 4 from 10am to 6pm, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 from 10am to 10pm, Feb.3 from 10am to 8pm

ADMISSION: NT$100 for adults, NT$80 for students, companions of disabled persons and those aged 65 and up, NT$50 after 6pm on weekends. Children under 125cm tall and disabled people get in free


In the poetic realm, revered Belgian poet Maurice Careme (1899-1978) will be introduced to local readers through a display of his poems and original manuscripts. Meanwhile, architect Victor Horta (1861-1947) comes into the spotlight with an exhibition on his distinct Art Nouveau style, showing off 54 images of Horta’s architectural designs accompanied by written introductions, which include the Belgian Comic Strip Center.

According to the foundation, Belgians spend the second-most annually of any EU country on books, and half of the nation’s publications are illustrated or are comic books. So it should come as no surprise that the Belgian pavilion dedicates part of its efforts to the works of more than 60 comics artists from different generations, illustrating the history and development of the country’s comic art.

Moreover, works of celebrated Belgian children’s book illustrators and writers including Peyo and Herge, the creators of the Smurfs and the Adventures of Tintin respectively, are on display at Hall 3, which focuses on children’s literature. Local favorites Carl Norac and Kitty Crowther, who won the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council, the biggest prize in children’s literature, will hold readings and book signing sessions.

Besides Belgium, Austrian children’s book illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger, who has received numerous international awards including the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen medal, will present 20 works depicting five fairytales including Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. She will give a talk in the Red Salon on Feb. 4 from 2:15pm to 4:30pm.

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