The Top Booths at Art Brussels 2015
The best art fair for new discoveries just announced a new location.
The Art Brussels contemporary art fair opened its 33rd edition today with a surprise announcement: next year, the fair will relocate from Brussels Expo to the more conveniently located Tour & Taxis, a historic building in the center of the city, near the site of a planned new modern and contemporary museum set to open in 2017 (see Brussels Gets New Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art).
The motivation behind the move, after some 17 years at the same location, could have to do with the new competition alighting in Brussels next year: New York’s Independent (see Independent Art Fair Heads to Brussels).
Art Brussels’s managing director, Anne Vierstraete, together with the fair’s artistic director, Katerina Gregos, announced the relocation to members of the press today (see Who Are the Most Influential Women in the European Art World?).
Both Vierstraete and Gregos opined that Independent—which “emerged at the shadow of the Armory,” as Vierstraete put it—has its eyes set on the European capital largely due to Art Brussels’s own contribution to the city’s current status as an exciting art hotspot.
Vierstraete added that in recent years, the city saw “artists choosing Brussels as their place of residence, international galleries opening branches in the city, and private and public art spaces thriving more than ever.”
Art Brussels is known as a platform for discovering new positions; more than half of the artists in this year’s edition are young and emerging (see Art Brussels Powers Ahead as European Sales Platform for Young Artists).
This year’s iteration goes a step further, with the addition of a new section titled DISCOVERY, which features a curated selection of galleries representing lesser-known artists. As Gregos quipped in her announcement, Art Brussels may be referred to as the grande dame of art fairs, but it’s a young grande dame nevertheless.
It comes as no surprise that the best booths in the fair’s two halls came courtesy of less established names.
1. On Stellar Rays
The Lower-East-Side gallery brought new sculptural works by Greek-British artist Athanasios Argianas in steel and brass, from his series “Song Machine.” The sculptures play on the dimensions of chairs, and some were even adorned with pink gold nuggets shaped like chewing gum. On the walls, a work by Argianas from the same series, and photographs by John Houck—whose work is grounded in architectural practice—complemented the sculptures’ play on dimensions and space.
2. G262 Sofie Van De Velde
Germaine Kruip presented a solo booth—and was one of two winners of the award for solo presentations. With a training in theater, her presentation was a stage of illusions: no smoke but plenty of strategically placed mirrors, along with theater spots and a rod that cast no shadow. Her treatment of space slightly recalls the work of Trisha Donnelly, yet Kruip’s manipulations are more directly concerned with visual disruptions. Two photographs capture LeBron James’s famous “chalk toss,” with all other details blackened out.
3. Waterside Contemporary
The East London space is focused on showing politically motivated art and brought works by Dutch artist Mathilde Ter Heijne and Israeli artist Oreet Ashery, whose photographic traces of performances entered into dialogue with Ter Heijne’s totem-like goddesses. Inspired by the work of archeologist Marija Gimbutas, Ter Heijne created gender-ambiguous ceremonial objects, which she presents in quizzical boxes, showered in LED lighting.
4. André Simoens Gallery
This Belgian gallery has a museum-quality booth with drawings by Bruce Nauman and Hanne Darboven, and pieces by Haim Steinbach, Berlinde de Bruyckere, and Jannis Kounelis. The highlight is undoubtedly Thebes, an elongated wooden sculpture by Carl Andre from 2003 (pictured above). Although they’re showing the largest artwork in the fair, the gallery’s booth doesn’t feel crowded, and the roster of powerful works manage to complement rather than overpower each other.
5. Galerie Krinzinger
The Vienna gallery has brought a selection of works by Sudarshan Shetty, Kader Attia, Thomas Zipp, and Hans Op de Beeck, but it was a new painting by Jonathan Meese that stole the show. With bright colors and light-hearted texts, the large-scale work was an unexpectedly fresh offering from the artist who has been a little silent lately.
6. Axel Vervoordt Gallery
In an overall slow-paced fair free of bling and extravagance, it doesn’t take much to stick out and draw a crowd. A performative booth of the work of Sadaharu Horio was perhaps the closest thing to a sensation during the preview. The Japanese artist—the youngest member of the Gutai group—has installed himself inside a painted wooden structure the size of a small hut. Drop a one-euro piece in the coin slot, and the so-called “Art Vending Machine” will spit out a “Sada” original. artnet News invested in one, too.
Visit Art Brussels 2015 from April 25 to 27 at Brussels Expo.
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