For the second year, Independent Brussels spreads across six floors of Brussels’s historic Vanderborght building this week, dotting the former 1930s department store’s modernist walls with tightly curated exhibitions. And like its New York counterpart, which this March hosted a second run at its glossy new Tribeca home
, Spring Studios, this year, Independent Brussels truly spreads its wings.
Thanks to Independent’s year-round presence in Europe’s capital via the exhibition space it opened in 2016, Independent Régence, it has now cultivated a loyal following in the city. This, in addition to the fact that the fair’s inaugural edition last year took place shortly after the tragic March 22nd terror attacks at Brussels’s airport, led to a marked increase in attendance on opening day.
“Last year there were a lot of new elements; a new city, a new fair, we had the attacks four weeks before we opened,” said executive director Laura Mitterrand during the VIP preview. “It was really a fantastic edition,” she added, “but it was also a difficult time for everyone. This year feels very different.”
Over 70 galleries and nonprofits, from 32 cities, participate in Independent Brussels’s 2017 edition. Among them are returning blue-chip galleries, like Barbara Gladstone and David Zwirner, whose
-curated stand arguably steals the show. Notable newcomers include Sprüth Magers
, Capitain Petzel, and Mendes Wood DM, which opened a Brussels outpost in the city earlier this week, adding to locations in São Paulo and New York.
“Galleries are getting more and more excited about what they can do here, and making statements that they wouldn’t be making at other fairs or in other cities,” said Mitterrand. “It’s bringing [the fair] to a new level.”
Nine of those participating have transformed their booths into full-scale exhibitions, taking the fair to a new level indeed.