Now in its 32nd edition, Art Brussels upholds “a continuing spirit of creative and artistic renewal” with a reputation as one of the top international contemporary art fairs. This year, with 190 exhibitors representing 27 countries, the fair welcomes 64 galleries that are new to the fair and places an emphasis on Belgium, France, and Germany.
1. When? Where? How?
Art Brussels 2014 takes place Friday, April 25th through Sunday, April 27th, at Brussels Expo Halls 1 & 3 (Place de Belgique, 1, BE-1020 Brussels). Tickets may be purchased online, here.
2. Why visit?
Art Brussels prides itself as a fair that successfully intermingles emerging and established artists and galleries, “offering the best of both worlds,” while also serving as a “discovery fair,” where collectors can find promising artists at the beginning of their careers. The fair’s location in the Belgian capital is also important to its identity, as a crucial midpoint between other European art capitals, and within a thriving local art scene with a strong collector base.
3. Important Players at Art Brussels 2014
This year, the Art Brussels team recognizes two fundamental female figures at the helm of the fair. Renowned curator Katerina Gregos returns as Artistic Director and newcomer Anne Vierstraete assumes the role of Business Director. Additionally, a panel of Belgian and foreign gallerists comprise the International Selection Committee that determined which galleries, from the pool of some 400 applications, would participate. This year’s committee, in addition to Katerina Gregos, includes:
Albert Baronian, Galerie Albert Baronian (Brussels)
Pilar Corrias, Pilar Corrias Gallery (London)
Gael Diercksens, Gladstone Gallery (Brussels/New York)
Rodolphe Janssen, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen (Brussels)
Thomas Krinzinger, Galerie Krinzinger (Vienna)
Nathalie Obadia, Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris/Brussels)
Wim Peeters, Office Baroque (Brussels)
4. Fair Sections: PRIME, YOUNG, SOLO, FIRST, & CURATOR’S VIEW
In addition to PRIME, a selection of international, established contemporary art galleries, this year’s fair features 75 galleries in the YOUNG section, which is dedicated to galleries that focus on the promotion of young artists; the leading gallery in this section, chosen by Gregos, is awarded the Karen Renders Award. Another award, the Pirelli Prize, goes to a gallery in the SOLO section, which features single-artist presentations. FIRST, an invitation-only section sponsored by the Swiss watchmaker, Swatch, consists of 16 emerging galleries who are new to the fair. Finally, a new addition this year, CURATOR’S VIEW is made up of thematic group presentations, which have been curated by the gallery, curators, or artists.
5. Art Brussels Campaign 2014: Jimmy Kets
Each year Art Brussels commissions one artist each year to create a project that will serve as the fair’s communication campaign. With the aim to further the fair’s mission to emphasize Brussels’ role as a major art center, this year’s artist, the photographer Jimmy Kets, developed a series to encapsulate the city and its unique character.
6. Fair Design: ONO Architectuur
In efforts to revitalize the fair environment and support young, local creatives, Art Brussels hired Antwerp-based architecture firm ONO Architectuur to design this year’s fair. With the goal of each visitor leaving with “a souvenir remembrance,” ONO developed a series of immersive scenes for fairgoers to encounter, resonating with the fair site, the historic grounds of Expo ’58.
7. “Portrait of the Collector as a Work of Art, An Intimate Journey”
Debuting at this year’s fair is a curated exhibition that will feature artworks on loan from Belgian private collectors, titled “Portrait of the Collector as a Work of Art, An Intimate Journey.”
While showcasing highlights from the collections of individuals on the Art Brussels’ Collectors Committee, in collaboration with Louis Vuitton and Anglo Belge Special Risks, the fair will honor a selection of collectors and open a dialogue on collecting practices.
8. The National Lottery Curatorial Competition
New to the fair this year is an invitational competition for emerging curators to develop an exhibition proposal consisting of works from the National Lottery’s collection, and responding to the theme “games of chance.” The 100,000-piece collection includes a broad range of artworks and objects, from Old Master works to photographs to vintage lottery machines. The winner’s curatorial proposal is presented exclusively at the National Lottery’s booth at the fair.
9. HISK CAFÉ
Each year HISK, the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Gent, runs HISK Café at the fair, a cafe and bar that is also an artists’ project developed by 23 current students at the school. The space “offers visitors the chance to make artistic discoveries, while enjoying a drink and a moment of relaxation.”
10. THE STAGE
Art Brussels’ programming agenda, THE STAGE, will take place again this year, offering a series of talks, debates, and performances over five days in an adjoining amphitheater. Bringing together over 100 art professionals, artists, scholars, and critics, THE STAGE will serve as a dynamic forum for discussion, exchange, and expression.
11. Spotlight on Belgian Not-For-Profits
For the second time Art Brussels hosts six Belgian not-for-profit spaces that are run by artists or curators. Injecting a non-commercial angle into the fair these organizations will each present a project that exemplifies their experimental practices. This year’s participants are: NICC (Brussels), Objectif (Antwerp), LLS 387 (Antwerp), CIAP (Hasselt), Hotel Charleroi (Charleroi), and Kiosk (Gent).