Brussels’ Accessible Art Fair Makes Glitzy Manhattan Debut

Artwork is spread across two floors, making for a more relaxed vibe.

The Accessible Art Fair ©Patrick McMullan. Photo by Sean Zanni/PMC.
The Accessible Art Fair ©Patrick McMullan. Photo by Sean Zanni/PMC.

Now that the Accessible Art Fair—which eschews dealers and traditional booths—has a full decade under its belt in Brussels, organizers have brought the fair to New York for the first time with the work of some 60 up-and-coming artists. Many of the artists were in attendance during the VIP opening Tuesday evening at the National Arts Club.

“The fair has had so much success in Brussels that [founder] Stephanie Manasseh, wanted to provide a similar platform in New York,” Maria van Vlodrop, founder and president of art venture company MvVO, told artnet News. The jury consisted of experts from Sotheby’s, Gagosian Gallery, Christie’s Collectrium and artnet News (artnet is also one of the sponsors of the event).

Artwork is spread across two floors, making for a more relaxed vibe—but which also makes viewing a bit challenging as the crowd swelled in number. But the effort was well worth it to see an eclectic mix of artwork—ranging from painting, photography, sculpture, and collage to larger installations—from a diverse group of international artists. The fair stands out in other ways, especially for its duration: it runs through November 25th, as opposed to the usual three or four day stint of most fairs.

Jason McGroarty, <i>Totem Hares</i> (2016). Courtesy the artist

Jason McGroarty, Totem Hares (2016). Courtesy the artist

artnet News spoke with Irish artist Jason McGroarty, whose glossy black-and-white C-prints of wildlife in unexpected domestic settings reflect his concern about how urban space continues to push into formerly rural spaces in Donegal, where he resides. These included two hares scampering around a church as a man kneels in silent prayer, and an image of a “cunning fox” in a casino.

Ellen Burnett, <i>A January State of Mind</i>(2016). Courtesy the artist

Ellen Burnett, A January State of Mind(2016). Courtesy the artist

“It has been interesting meeting the other artists and seeing the diversity of work [at the fair],” artist Ellen Burnett told artnet News, while standing near her two-mixed media works on display.

Fatma Al Shebani, <i>My Bouqnag</i> (2015). Courtesy the artist.

Fatma Al Shebani, My Bouqnag (2015). Courtesy the artist.

Artist Fatma Alshebani called the Accessible Art Fair “a great opportunity to be here with other artists and to show my work outside Qatar.” She has previously participated in regional fairs such as Art Abu Dhabi and Contemporary Istanbul. At the National Arts Club, she was next to a set of large laquered resin sculptural installations from a 2015 series called “My Bouqnag,” which references the traditional black garments embroidered with gold she remembers being made to wear as a child “to enforce modesty.”

This weekend, MvVo is planning a series of talks on the concept of the fair as well as on emerging artists as a popular market entry for new buyers.


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