15 Artists We Discovered at Art Brussels
The 35th edition of Art Brussels opened to VIPs on Thursday morning. This year marks the fair’s second edition in the historic Tour & Taxis building, a more central and more sunlit location that last year garnered resounding praise from dealers and collectors alike. This year, 144 galleries hailing from 28 countries fill the aisles, with nearly a quarter of the galleries new to the fair.
Art Brussels bills itself primarily as a place for discovery, and indeed, this year it has plenty to offer when it comes to new artists. The aptly-titled Discovery sector gathers work made from 2014 onward by not-yet-known artists (something more difficult in recent years to pull off, but which Art Brussels has). The Rediscovery sector, fittingly, showcases work, spanning from 1917 to 1987, by forgotten or overlooked artists. One such artist, Attila Kovacs, sadly passed away at the age of 78, just two weeks before his Art Brussels debut.
Below, we bring you 15 standouts—whether unsung heroes of the historical avant-garde or young emerging artists just breaking into the public sphere—that you cannot miss.
Los Angeles-based artist Gladstone has been gaining traction since his inclusion in a group show at Shulamit Nazarian in L.A. last year. However, his most recent works, created during and in the months following the U.S. presidential election, are poised to push his practice even further. Among paintings priced between $6,500–$16,000, the booth’s centerpiece, Smoke Screen (2016), sees a motley cast of characters grab at a central subject, rendered helpless in a bizarre, dream world that for many may seem like reality.
On view at Art Brussels:
Bugada & Cargnel • Solo, Booth B.21
MARSO • Discovery, Booth D.19
Mercier’s solo booth at Bugada & Cargnelis centered on the passage of time and obsolescence of humanity and technology; one room is filled with standing CD racks that tower like a city of skyscrapers. These accessories to outdated technology linger like bizarre, unpurposed trophies in a postmodern skyline. Other works on view, including two at MARSO (€12,500 apiece), see Goodyear tires frame 200-million-year-old fossils that further reflect the outmoded debris of our modern world.
28-year-old artist Lyndon Chase, who lives in Philadelphia, often paints scenes from his life and the daily lives of his friends; these often include images of young black men openly presenting their bodies and their sexuality. At Art Brussels, Thierry Goldberg presents a selection of his paintings, somewhat smaller and more toned down than other works, but still a stunning representation of this promising young painter. Two of the four works on view sold on opening day.
By virtue of her nationality, Israeli artist Littwitz cannot enter 24 countries of the world. To counter this, she’s created a sculptural floor work, TheLand of the Unknown South (2017), that imagines a utopian, balanced world free of borders and political divides. (It sold to an American collector for €24,000.) Here, she gracefully reveals the geopolitics of a particular region through visual aesthetics; in a steel circle divided into 24 sections, she seeks to fill each space with soil from the respective countries through the help of local collaborators. She’s at 19, and counting.
It would be difficult not to draw a connection between young Mexican artist Alcázar’s socially and politically engaged work and the present moment. At Mexico City’s MARSO gallery, Minimum Income, (2016; €12,000), sees seven wall-mounted workers’ tools pulled from construction sites in various parts of the world, each stacked with their country’s respective minimum wages (in Mexico, it’s €3). Across the booth’s back wall, a series of 86 global newspapers blackened by smoke (one piece, €12,000) are a memory of the past decade’s financial crises—and a reminder of their impact across the world.
Since the 1970s, la Pietra has lived by the mantra “living is being at home everywhere.” Because of this, the Italian artist, whose work is on view in the Rediscovery sector, has created a playful series of works that reimagine public objects—street signs, guardrails—as objects of comfort. Works on view include sketches that see a roadsign bend sideways, functioning as a table for tea, or one that’s equipped with a hook for a bathrobe.
Nicaragua-born, self-taught painter Aguilar works from found photographs, bringing his subjects into environments that feel both reminiscent of artist-studio walls and bathroom graffiti, with words like “vermon,” “I love you,” and “help” scrawled into their backgrounds. A number of these works are on view at New York gallery Lyles & King’s Art Brussels booth, including portraits of farmers that recall stunning early 20th-century works.
Golkar toys with the value system of global society with a brilliant plan: He purchases an object (say, a shovel at Home Depot or a broom at Ikea), modifies it, signs it, photographs it, and returns it to the store—all within respective return policies. Among the series of work on view at Art Brussels (priced between $12,000–$16,000), the best of the bunch documents the $125 ring he purchased, signed, and swapped its zirconia for a $2,000 diamond before returning to the store to one lucky, if oblivious, buyer.
Austrian artist Fisslthaler collects, carves, and layers found photographs to create intricate sculptural works that explore portrayals of the human body in media, like the two cut-out collages of Marilyn Monroe on view that somehow capture the complexity of an otherwise impenetrable bombshell. A recent work, created following the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st, captures the infinite depth in which women have found words, and actions, to express themselves: “The Future is Nasty,” “Tweet Others How You Want to Be Tweeted,” and “We Shall Overcomb” among them.
On view at Art Brussels:
Galerie Nathalie Halgand • Discovery, Booth D.30
You might stop in your tracks at Schönweger’s work, and that’s precisely the point. Inspired by what he considers the magic of daily life, the young Italian artist intervenes in ordinary objects—like a wooden dresser that spouts water into a small bucket—and particularly those one might otherwise breeze past without a second thought. A rug sprawled across the booth’s floor, topped with a pair of shoes lit from within by small, bright lights, was inspired, he said, by a time he paused to see the sun illuminating his otherwise predictable sneakers.
Hungarian artist Kovács, maker of infinitely pleasing black-and-white geometric works, passed away just two weeks prior to Art Brussels at the age of 78. However, the abstract works he spent a lifetime crafting, through meticulous mathematical calculations, uphold his legacy in the Rediscovery sector. Though his work is featured in some 40 museum collections across the world, he’s relatively under-recognized for the extent of his career. “Our mission is to put him back on stage,” said gallery director Krisztina Dián.
A film by Mexican artist Peñalosa, created during her residency in Antwerp, takes the migration of some two million people from Antwerp to America between 1871 and 1935 as its focus—but its message on immigration is global. Inspired by Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño’s 1980 novella Antwerp, Peñalosa sought to see the city through the lens of his book during her two-month stay, finding correlation between a fictional tale of fleeing animals and those individuals forced to flee their homes, in Antwerp or elsewhere. While she’s well known in Mexico, it’s exciting to see her work travel beyond its borders.
Ahead of a show later this year with Rodolphe Janssen, Tehranian painter Khatibi makes her debut with the gallery with a sensual, showstopping painting, Rivers in our Mouths, (2017; €20,000). Seven nude women are pictured standing amongst a lush, exotic landscape where a flurry of wild dogs feast on rabbits; one woman pulls another’s hair and two are seen holding freshly killed bounty of their own. Like much of Khatibi’s work, it’s a tender and intriguing reflection of animal impulse.
This 79-year-old Belgian artist, also on view with Rodolphe Janssen but part of the fair’s Rediscovery sector, has, despite his bold and brightly colored canvases, largely flown under the radar. At Art Brussels, the concrete abstract painter is finally getting his due in a solo booth filled with his signature word paintings from the ’80s and ’90s—an ongoing series in which the artist hides letters and words within graphic, abstract works.
On view at Art Brussels:
Galerie Anne de Villepoix • Discovery, Booth D.01
French artist Denant creates modern utopias from raw materials—such as concrete, or timber—as seen across Galerie Anne de Villepoix’s booth in the Discovery sector. The booth, lined with an engraved relief, was conceived as a “stone quarry” and indeed, from its perch at the opening of the section, it exudes great allure.
Molly Gottschalk is Artsy’s Lead Visuals Editor.