01 November 2023, The Tablet

The painter of silence

The painter of silence

Fifteenth-century Dutch artist Dieric Bouts hasn’t enjoyed the fame of some of his contemporaries – but a new show aims to change that, says Laura Gascoigne

Stand under the Gothic windows of St Peter’s Church in the Belgian city of Leuven after dark, and you might be surprised to hear a sound like birdsong emanating from the building’s empty interior. Mimicking the nocturnal calls of migrating birds, it’s part of a musical score composed and played by clarinettist Stuart Bogie for Jill Magid’s The Off Hours (until 28 April), a ­contemporary art installation coinciding with an exhibition of Early Netherlandish painter Dieric Bouts at Museum Leuven down the road. The original plan was for the piece to play during opening hours, but when that turned out to not be possible, Magid decided that, as a comment on migration and exile, it made perfect sense for it to play to an empty church. In the context of the war in Gaza, what she calls “a concert for the church and its ghosts” has acquired new ­resonance.


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