Brussels By Way of Paris: Almine Rech’s Guide to the Belgian Capital
Parisian dealer Almine Rech is one of the most respected gallerists in Brussels and Paris. Since 1990, when she co-founded her first gallery in Paris’s now-trendy Marais neighborhood, Rech has been known for her astute eye and support of minimal and conceptual work, a reputation sparked by her first show, which featured a light work by James Turrell (the first to be shown in a commercial gallery in Europe). By 1997, Rech opened her own space within Paris’s ephemeral art hub, Rue Louis Weiss—which eventually moved to the Marais—and by 2007, she opened an outpost in Brussels. Both spaces are acclaimed for a prestigious roster, including artists Ugo Rondinone, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and Joseph Kosuth, to name just a few.
Today, an insider’s tour of Brussels might begin at Rech’s Belgian pied-à-terre, which is among the city’s top galleries. Rech, who is married to Picasso’s grandson, lives in a brick villa with her husband and knows the city well. “I settled in Brussels in order to be at the heart of Europe,” she told Artsy. “It is a city ideally located between Berlin, London and Paris. The environment is really pleasant. The area where the gallery is located is really dynamic, with several international galleries,” she says, among them, Barbara Gladstone, CLEARING, and Nathalie Obadia.
If you’re heading to the city for Art Brussels, Rech has offered a handful of favorite places to see within the locale—before the fair opens to the public. After paying a visit to the Almine Rech space on Rue de l’Abbaye Abdijstraat, she suggests checking out the Stalactica Independent Project, an exhibition featuring works by Gregor Hildebrandt and Matthias Bitzer, at Quincaillerie Vander Eycken. And of course, there’s the WIELS Contemporary Art Center, the experimental institution credited for jumpstarting the local art scene in 2007, and Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, known for its collection of Flemish artists. Beyond art, Rech suggests favorite places to shop—the Siblings Factory and Smets concept stores—and local haunts for a bite to eat, like Tan, a vegetarian restaurant, and Ecailler du Palais-Royal, one of the city’s most beloved spots for seafood. But best of all, she shares highlights from the gallery’s booth at Art Brussels, which is divided into three sections: “The first part features Belgian artists Johan Creten and Matthieu Ronsse,” she says. “Then a special section with The Bruce High Quality Foundation, and finally our artists working with abstraction—Ayan Farah, Mark Hagen, Erik Lindman, David Ostrowski and Aaron Young.”
So this week, let Almine Rech Gallery be the first and last stop on your Brussels tour—and follow Rech’s suggestions for all that falls between.