In a story earlier this year, Artsy contributing editor Francesca Gavin asked if Brussels has become the new Berlin? And with established galleries opening outposts in the city, a thriving emerging scene, and collectors to support the action, it appears so. Amongst the emerging set who are lifting Brussels as a hot new art destination is Damîen Bertelle-Rogier, co-founder and director of Super Dakota. We spoke with the dealer about his current exhibition; the changing landscape and heightened reputation of the city as a new art capital; and the must-sees and -dos in the burgeoning city this Brussels Art Days weekend.
Artsy: Can you tell us about your current exhibition and how it fits in within your program?
Damîen Bertelle-Rogier: Our current exhibition is going to be one of the biggest of our season—putting together two of our most popular artists whom we have been working with for a while: Hugo Pernet anda Baptiste Caccia. Caccia and Pernet have such disparate ways of handling paint and it’s a chance to play with the diversity. The show came from a much earlier idea of depicting the varied forms that contemporary painting can take, and in the end we chose to simplify and to focus on two contemporary painters who have strong, independent practices.
Artsy: How would you describe the art world balance in Brussels, in terms of galleries and institutions, collectors, and artists? What about Brussels allows you to have the type of gallery you want to have?
DBR: Brussels is a dynamic city when it comes to art, likely due to the sheer amount of collectors and art enthusiasts living here and throughout Belgium. We have a high ratio of collectors for such a small country and it creates a dynamic and healthy market. There is an interesting balance in Brussels of big galleries, medium size, and smaller, with a sense of general quality in their programs which is a very unique atmosphere. If you add to that strong institutions such as WIELS and BOZAR acting as an engine pushing forward a burgeoning scene of artists, you get an attractive place for contemporary art. I chose to open the gallery in Brussels for all these reasons, and because of the sense of a new territory that was developing, it fits what we’re trying to do at Super Dakota.
Artsy: Where would you like to see the Brussels 10 years from now? What role do you play in that vision?
DBR: I would like its reputation to expand and for it to gain a more international aura. I can imagine great events such as Art Brussels, and the Brussels Art Days growing to a more international audience, and in general more bridges between Belgium and the rest of the world. I am quite new here, but I hope to become even more involved in the coming years. We are working on creating these bridges for Super Dakota at the moment and hopefully we will grow and be able to help promote the city and its cultural environment.
Artsy: What are you most looking forward to during Brussels Art Days?
Artsy: What are your favorite stores and haunts in Brussels?
DBR: Uptown, Middlemarch project space near the gallery (Chaussée de Waterloo 550), and Nijinski bookstore (15-17 rue du Page) are some of my favorite spots. For drinks, I’d have to say L’Archiduc downtown; and for eating out, my choice would be Au Vieux Saint Martin at Sablons place. If you are in Brussels you really can’t miss the WIELS museum; it’s a “must-see.”