From KANSAS to (Super)Dakota: Trendspotting Emerging Artists at Art Brussels

  • Hannah Perry, Static Repetitive Behavior, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and Steven Turner, Los Angeles.

My first encounter with Brussels was exactly one year ago. The scene had recently been anointed with up-and-coming status, and I arrived for Art Brussels set on exploring the country rumored to have the highest number of collectors per capita. Right away, one thing became very clear: young talent being buzzed about in New York—Sterling Ruby, Brent Wadden, Jacob Kassay, Chris Succo, Sam Moyer, and Lesley Vance among others topping collector wishlists—all had already been shown in the Belgian capital. Brussels is the city right now where young American artists strive to be exhibited.

Isaac Brest, co-founder of the Still House Group, which had their first museum show at nearby museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Belgium and a rotating program at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen in the city, explains: "Brussels has real potential to incubate an emerging artist population. It has a significant gallery scene with an impressively knowledgeable and supportive collector base, while somehow also offering affordable real estate.” He adds, “Those attributes don't often intersect—when one factors in its proximity to so many important European cities, it makes for an ideal hub."

And it’s not just artists looking to the EU capital. With New York art fair Independent, founded by Elizabeth Dee, planning a Brussels edition for Spring 2016, the increasing flow of ideas between Brussels and America doesn’t look like it will be stopping soon. Even within Belgium, the art world’s focus is shifting to the city. Established spaces like Micheline Szwajcer gallery—who has a program of major international names including Christopher Wool and On Kawara, (who sent her daily postcards in the ’80s)—moved from Antwerp to Brussels last June.

With Brussels now a leading indicator of emerging talent, collectors should take note. Here are the nine young artists making their mark:


Jessica Sanders at KANSAS 

The subtleties of soft beeswax are impossible to resist in the works of Jessica Sanders. Now with her MFA a few years behind her, Sanders was recently featured in Modern Painters and has turned the heads of in-the-know collectors. Broader recognition is bound to follow. Her muted, abstract color fields are obscured from vision by layers of encaustic. The works possess a pulsating energy and mesmerizing depth, the extent of which remains tauntingly out of one's grasp when looking at them. Including sculpture and crumpled canvases, her solo presentation at KANSAS will be a fresh reprieve from familiar names. With some smaller works still priced under $5k, this is the discovery every collector wants to make.


Lucas Blalock at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen

Lucas Blalock, whose first solo show with Galerie Rodolphe Janssen is currently on view, has already captured the attention of Belgium’s collectors—and it is only a matter of time until the rest of the world catches on. A 2013 MFA graduate of UCLA, Blalock has exhibited with Ramiken Crucible and White Cube, while making the rounds in hip summer group shows at galleries like Gavin Brown’s enterprise and Hauser & Wirth. Blalock uses painting and collage to create carefully staged photographs with distinct background and foreground elements. Bizarre and visually compelling, the works feel fresh.


Hannah Perry at Steve Turner

Spunky UK native and recent Royal Academy grad Hannah Perry will have a solo booth at Steve Turner. Fair warning: start clambering for the pieces now. Following her lauded shows at Serpentine Gallery and Turner’s L.A. location, Art Brussels marks European collectors’ first chance to get Perry’s latest screen-printed works on mirror and aluminum. Drawing on filmic elements and sound installations, her works bring to life the energy and youth of her winsome persona.


Baptiste Caccia at Super Dakota

The two-year-old gallery, which showed Jean-Baptiste Bernadet early and prides itself on a program of young emerging talent, brings Baptiste Caccia to the fair. Finishing the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in 2013, Caccia creates works by reproducing and repurposing images through both mechanical and analog means. Beginning with a photograph, Caccia believes that “through the printing action…the mechanical gesture of the printer becomes a [means] of painting.” The works avoid the tropes of Israel Lund by not committing to a single process or media, instead leaving the viewer to sort through layers upon layers of constructions.


Beth Stuart at Battat Contemporary

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, this gallery is presenting Beth Stuart. (If you didn’t get the memo, Canadian female painters are big this year, with Sascha Braunig’s standout contribution to the New Museum Triennial and Julia Dault’s show at Marianne Boesky Gallery this spring). Stuart comes from Saskatoon and her approach to painting and sculpture is a seamless interweaving of the two. Her works feel intimate and personal; they are thoughtful and counter formal abstract tendencies, navigating language and intimacy instead.


Joris Van de Moortel at Galerie Nathalie Obadia

Sometimes I come across things which seem good precisely because I can’t distinctly place them, and Van de Moortel’s work falls very much into that category. The Flemish artist and Antwerp resident is equal parts artist, musician, improviser, and performer. He aligns his practice with “German Romanticism [in his] desire for intense experiences and…danger during each of his performances.” Enjoying entropy and drama, he uses debris from his performance works to create objects. Along with the pieces at the booth, he will be opening his second solo show with the gallery in Brussels this week.


Gabriele Beveridge at Elizabeth Dee

This London-based artist who had a show at the Zabludowicz Collection last year, brings her images to be shown alongside Belgian trio Leo Gabin, in a combination which is sure to delight. It’s almost novel to find in Beveridge a contemporary photographer who doesn’t exploit Photoshop’s non-reality or forge abstraction through analog means. Instead, she recombines, fades the photos, and makes them sculptural by use of objects and material interactions. The move obscures the images direct meaning, giving her objects the feeling as if  they have a history that the viewer is not privy to.


Kika Karadi at The Journal Gallery

Forget the midwestern references in clever gallery names—think KANSAS and Super Dakota—the real gem hailing from the region is artist Kika Karadi, who works from a studio in, of all places, a shopping mall in Minnesota. Her monochromatic large-scale works are actually traces of other paintings. Painting on glass and then stamping the image onto linen, Karadi imprints the flat image that looks near mechanically reproduced. The steps of production are divulged in the remnants of tape, cardboard, and paper as she uses razor blades to wipe away paint and to create momentary traces of the past work.


Sofia Leiby at LEVY.DELVAL

Another artist making their Brussels gallery debut during the art fair week, Sofia Leiby has been appearing at many group shows of note including Regina Rex, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery and Future Gallery. Her works are a series of marks, swirls, and staccatos, all of which flow from a stream-of-conscious outpouring that the artist channels in paint. Levy.Deval has become a go-to for those following emerging art in Belgium and even spread west with a pop-up location in L.A. earlier this year. Alongside her first European solo show opening at the gallery and fair booth presentation, Leiby is also launching silkscreen monoprints with Exhibition A during Art Brussels.


Explore Art Brussels 2015 on Artsy.

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