Art Brussels: 50th edition


One of Europe’s most important art fairs is about to launch its 50th edition, an anniversary that will no doubt have a positive impact on attendance from April 19 to 22.

Two weeks after an intense week of cultural activity in Paris focused on drawing, Contemporary art fans and collectors will be heading north towards the EU’s capital for the 50th edition of Art Brussels in the massive Tour & Taxis Exhibition and Trade Centre. For this 50th edition, Anne Vierstraete, the fair’s Director, says We are going back to our roots with strong support from the main Belgian galleries and a significant return of some of the most important galleries on the international scene. Art Brussels will continue to be an exciting platform for discovery and an unavoidable meeting place for world-famous galleries. In an art world calendar packed with art fairs all over the world, Art Brussels stands out both for its quality and for its longevity.

There will be more Belgian galleries this year (32% in 2018 versus 18% in 2017) while maintaining the high level of international diversity that is essential for any major art fair. The 147 galleries present at the fair are from 32 countries, divided into three sections: 33 in DISCOVERY, 114 in PRIME and REDISCOVERY and 21 SOLO presentations. The International and Discovery Selection Committees of Art Brussels chose a total of 36 new galleries plus 111 that were present at the 2017 edition.

Of the 21 exhibitors who chose the SOLO option – the work of a single artist presented either on a gallery’s entire stand or as an extension adjoining the main stand – visitors will discover the saturated colours of Nicolas PARTY’s paintings, presented by the Xavier Hufkens gallery, the deconstructed sculptures by Florian Pugnaire & David Raffin at the Ceysson & Bénétière stand, the gravity-driven works by the French artist Daniel FIRMAN on the stand of the Choi & Lager gallery, and the sculptures and installations in copper wire and false red hair by the Franco-British artist Alice ANDERSON. The latter made a strong auction debut last year with a result of almost $23,000 for her sculpture 181 Kilometers (March 2017 at Christie’s in London).

In the REDISCOVERY section, where four galleries are focusing on art from 1917 to 1987, we can rediscover the work of American video artist, Jaime Davidovich, that of the Argentine artist, Osvaldo Romberg, the Bruges-based artist Jacques Verduyn, and the Italian artist Ida Barbarigo who died recently and was married to Zoran Mušič. Like the SOLO section, the REDISCOVERY section mainly provides visibility for relatively unknown artists compared with those featured in the denser PRIME section. Last year’s PRIME section offered works by Jenny Holzer, Niki de Saint -Phalle and Ai Wei Wei.

For this 50th anniversary, most of Brussels’ major galleries will be present including Valerie Bach, Albert Baronian, Bernier/Eliades, Dauwens & Beernaert, Xavier Hufkens, Rodolphe Janssen, Kusseneers, Nathalie Obadia, Almine Rech and Templon. Throughout the year, these galleries form a dense artistic network alongside the city’s institutions such as the WIELS Centre for Contemporary Art (currently showing Saadane Afif), La Centrale (the Contemporary Art Centre of the City Brussels in the premises of a former power plant), the MAC’s (Museum of Contemporary Arts of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation currently showing Abdessemed) and the recently-opened MAD building, whose 3,000m² of white space has become a reference for fashion and design. In all, the city’s creative effervescence is a major attraction for visiting art fans. Every year Art Brussels attracts some 30,000 visitors (including 30% from abroad) and its ideal location between France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany (a little over 1 hour from Paris, and roughly 2 hours from London, Cologne and Amsterdam) is a distinct advantage. This year’s fiftieth anniversary will probably attract a larger audience.