The 7 Best Booths at Art Brussels
The 34th edition of Art Brussels opened to VIPs this morning, welcoming eager Belgian and international collectors into its new location in the city’s historic Tour & Taxis. The venue, a former customs warehouse built at the turn of the 20th century, sees 141 galleries from 28 countries spread across a single floor. With the number of exhibitors having been skimmed down by a quarter from 2015, the selection is stronger and more tightly curated than ever—particularly in galleries offering an opportunity to discover new artists, the discovery element being a key part of the fair’s identity. In edition to the Solo and Discovery sectors, offering in-depth presentations and introductions to emerging artists, respectively, this latest edition of the fair also debuts a new sector, Rediscovery, in which 14 galleries showcase overlooked or marginalized historic artist practices. We scoured the aisles to pick out the seven most compelling presentations on view.
With works by Eduardo Terrazas
London’s Timothy Taylor is using the Rediscovery sector to shine a spotlight on lesser-known Mexican artist Terrazas, who turns 80 this year. At once an architect, urban planner, and graphic designer, Terrazas caught the eye of Art Brussels artistic director Katerina Gregos during his September exhibition at the London gallery space, according to director of exhibitions Tania Doropoulos. “Art Brussels felt that he was known in Belgium, but had not really been given any air,” she said. However, after unveiling his dizzying wall of yarn-covered, geometric abstractions at the fair, the demand for Terrazas has been proven. The pieces blend op art with the traditional craftwork techniques of Mexico’s indigenous Huichol yarn painters. Two of the three yarn-covered panels displayed on one wall had quickly sold for $36,000 apiece; the works were conceived in the ’70s and executed in 2004. A pair of vintage works from the ’70s were still available at $95,000 each, as were four works on paper, priced at $6,500.
With work by István Csákány
According to Ursula Krinzinger, Romanian-born Hungarian artist Csákány spent the last few days holed up at Art Brussels installing his solo presentation with Galerie Krinzinger. The artist began working with Krinzinger through a stint at her residency program in Petőmihályfa, Hungary, in 2011. It’s there that he began the project he went on to show at dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012. The Hungarian artist has enjoyed strong momentum since, and at the fair unveils a solo presentation of sculpture, titled “Workspace.” (Pieces are priced on the range of €17,500–29,000.) The presentation is centered around a giant curved wall construction, illuminated from within through a gently lit curtain, Screen (2016). Other works include Workspace (2016), a wooden, scale model of an artist’s studio (look for mini, dollhouse-like objects such as tools and artworks) and Origin Unknown (2016), a concrete sculpture which is made of hammer-like forms and which the gallery’s Stella Reinhold-Rudas noted is influenced by African naive art and the communist regime of the artist’s childhood.
With works by Émilie Brout & Maxime Marion
A clear highlight of the Discovery sector (if the swarm of collectors seen perusing the booth are any indication) is 22,48 m²’s solo presentation of recent works by French artist duo Brout & Marion. “All of our work is about questions of value, production value and perceived value, based on found and secondhand objects that themselves have no value,” said Marion. Three works (Denim (#1), Denim (#2), and Denim (#3), all 2016 and priced at €2,500) see found blue jeans with their pockets imprinted by the bulges of smartphones, encased in vacuum seals and displayed neatly on iPad wall supports.
Nearby, wall-hung shattered smartphones, destined for the dump, are outfitted with videos designed specifically to fit the screens’ imperfections. (The works were inspired by the Japanese art form Kintsugi, Marion said, wherein broken pottery is repaired with gold lacquer.) Priced between €1,500 and €3,000, one of the smallest phones was reported sold by early afternoon. In the right-hand corner, the artists show a series of free samples ordered online—16mm aluminum Venetian blinds, a 3D carbon fiber vinyl sticker, and stainless steel mosaic tiles among them—all gold in color, and each displayed like an entomologist’s most prized butterfly (price: €2,500 apiece). And a video projection headed for curator Nadim Samman’s 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Nakamoto (The Myth) (2014), depicting the 3D head of bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto, is well worth four-and-a-half minutes to see his likeness morph into mandalas before disappearing.
With works by Pravdoliub Ivanov, Vikenti Komitski, Valio Tchenkov, Şakir Gökçebağ
Following its Art Brussels debut last year, as the first Bulgarian gallery to participate in the fair, SARIEV Contemporary returns with a standout presentation of four artists deeply rooted in their respective cultural backgrounds—three of whom hail from the gallery’s home country. The centerpiece of the booth, visible from across the Discovery sector, is a wall-hung installation by Ivanov, who, despite 25 years of building momentum in Bulgaria, is lesser-known in the wider art world. The work, titled Double Ornaments, (2016) and priced at €25,000 excluding VAT, is the third in a series of Persian rugs which have been cut in the shape of a broken window. “The idea came in 2011, from the Arab Spring, the looting of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the struggle between the past and the future—all the fear and turbulence. But it’s about more than just a response to a political event,” said the artist, who was found chatting with gallery owner and director Vesselina Sarieva during the preview.
Sorry We’re Closed
With works by Yann Gerstberger
Every year, Brussels gallery Sorry We’re Closed (a postage stamp-sized white cube notorious for opening just two days a year, including Tuesday night) offers up a specially curated booth for Art Brussels. This year is no different. Titled “Green Doesn’t Sell,” the booth brings together work inspired by the color, from a floor piece by Arte Povera affiliate Piero Gilardi to a sculpture by Eddie Martinez. But the best of the booth is its continuation in a solo presentation across the aisle: a giant, wall-hung work by French, Mexico-based artist Gerstberger. To create the work (price €12,000), as well as the three others that fill the solo space, the artist died mop strands using a natural pigment (“an old-school Mexican technique of tie dye,” said the gallery’s Emilie Pischedda) before gluing and sewing them together to form a tapestry-like collage.
With works by Spiros Hadjidjanos, Henrik Strömberg
“We move on the axis of photo, sculpture, and architecture, and these two artists are amazing examples of how today, an image can end up as an object,” said gallery co-founder Barak Bar-Am, describing his program and the work by Greek artist Hadjidjanos and Swedish artist Strömberg at his Art Brussels booth. “It’s beautiful to see how both artists work in the same principle but in totally different methods.” To create the photographs-cum-sculptures which line the side walls of the booth (priced at €6,800 apiece) Strömberg photographs classical stone sculptures and monuments throughout his native Berlin and processes them on the computer to create prints that the artist deems more object than image. “For both artists, the starting point is always a photograph,” added Bar-Am. In the case of Hadjidjanos’s hanging aluminum sculpture (€18,000 in an edition of three) the piece began with a photograph of a Greek ornament found in one of the temples of the Acropolis. To create the work, the artist used a CNC printer to drill the image into an aluminum block, the process itself a reference to classical sculpture.
With works by Cécile B. Evans
Near the entrance of the fair, Berlin and London-based artist Evans continues to ask what is human, and what is not, in a fantastic solo booth with Barbara Seiler. “Evans’s work is about the influence of new technologies on humans, and human feelings and emotions,” said Barbara Seiler. “Each work in the booth relates to that.” The booth is filled with work housed in computer servers. One holds a CGI rendering of a deceased famous actor. Another is coated with fake tears to visualize the emotions that are stored in the server. Evans also shows three new LCD screens (priced at £8,000), which will be part of her new film, What the Heart Wants, that will be screened at this summer’s Berlin Biennial. “We’ve had great interest because Cécile is Belgian, but not known in Belgium,” said Seiler. “She’s having a great career everywhere in the world from the Sydney Biennale to Berlin to all these solo shows this year, but the Belgian collectors haven’t discovered her yet.”