Galerie Zwart Huis opened in Knokke in 2001 in the modernist De Beir building, designed by renowned architect Huib Hoste. Exhibitions organised include Belgian artists such as Jan Fabre, Luc Deleu, Jan Vanriet, Liliane Vertessen, Johan Tahon and Jan De Vliegher. In 2007 the gallery moved to new premises on the sea wall and continued to exhibit contemporary Belgian art. In 2015 founder Gerda Vander Kerken was succeeded by her daughter Elke Helbig.
The Rivoli building dates from the late 1970s. For years the up-market shopping gallery was neglected but it was given a new lease of life when the renovations started in 2013. Gallery owners started setting up shop here, attracted by the architecture and the fact it is in Ixelles, the key district for contemporary art in Brussels. The Galerie Rivoli is home to, amongst others: Xavier Hufkens, Hopstreet Gallery, Rossi Contemporary, Victor Hunt, Dear Future Me, Plagiarama, De Filatuur and now Galerie Zwart Huis as well.
Liliane Vertessen (1952) is the artist chosen for the inaugural exhibition of Galerie Zwart Huis. She is one of the first Belgian artists to use her own body as a medium. She regularly combines analogue photography with neon. The poses she photographs herself in are erotically charged and heavily staged and her work possesses a mysterious ambiguous quality, with her provocative role-play suggesting unbounded exhibitionism. She hides behind the cliché of ‘the Woman: the vamp, sex kitten, diva, femme fatale, and innocent young girl. Yet her real identity remains elusive.
Liliane Vertessen’s work can be found in collections at the M HKA, the PMMK, the Belfius Art Collection and the Flemish Parliament. A few highlights from her career are the double exhibition with Cindy Sherman at the PCBK Hasselt (1987), 'Liliane Vertessen and Wim Delvoye' at the SMAK in Ghent (1989), 'Gedachtengangen - Musings' at the Fridericianum Museum in Kassel (1989), 'Woord een beeld - Word and image’ in 1992 at the M HKA in Antwerp, 'Seven crimes, one case' at the PMMK in Ostend (1992) and 'David Bowie and me' at Studio Propaganda in Antwerp in 1999.