Discover Benelux | Belgium | Art Fair Guide
proponents of relational aesthetics, and for this work he employed a very smartly dressed young man to serve visitors crushed ice with a little bowl of matcha tea that they were then encouraged to pour over the ice and eat with a spoon. As you might imagine, Tiravanija and his art often divide opinion, but if all relational aesthetics is as delicious as this, then I will forever sing its praises.
Simply beautiful Having seen all the booths, and at the end of my trudge up to the fifth floor, I was tired and hungry. I had even begun to contemplate buying something if it would mean I got to sit down on a chair for a while. But all good art quickly takes a hold of you, makes you want to never leave it, and return to it again and again. It was the Tim Van Laere booth that did just that, and I hauled my aching body back for another look. I have long been an admirer of the Antwerp-based gallery and its roster of artists, but had never been fortunate
Nika Neelova installation at Vigo Gallery booth. Photo: Independent
enough to visit before. But another sign of good art is that it does not disappoint but indeed offers you more in real life than from the computer screen, and the Van Laere booth did this in abundance. Kati Heck’s drawings are more nuanced and funny, Jonathan Meese’s paintings subtler, and Rinus van de Velde’s drawings are simply beautiful.
A piquant of humour My final stop on my whirlwind tour was Art Brussels – the long-running Belgian fair set in the gargantuan Tours & Taxis building. This year, the revamped fair had chosen to split itself into three parts – Discovery (for the younger galleries), Prime, and Rediscovery (for under-recognised artists). In Prime and the Belfius Art Collection, the fair was littered with big art fair names, but it was in the Discovery section, and the New York-based gallery The Hole that impressed me more than any other. Eric Yahnker used to be a cartoonist for South Park. That influence can
still be seen, and his highly realised pastel drawings are laugh-out-loud funny and full to burst with political remarks and satire. It provided a perfect piquant of humour and irreverence against the rest of the fair.
The heart of the European art world Leaving Art Brussels, I was left to reflect on my trip and my feelings towards art fairs. It is of course incredibly hard to escape the monetary aspect of an art fair – that is why they exist of course. However, if you can put this somewhere to the back of your mind, you will find an art fair an incredibly exciting place to be. The sheer amount of quality works means you will never be unsatisfied, as you perhaps might be with the odd exhibition. These were three fairs of the utmost quality, covering the very new, the up-and-coming and the established. The end result? Well, if it was ever in doubt, then the combined effort of these fairs have cemented Brussels’ place at the heart of the European art world, and long may that continue.
Installation view of Gladstone Gallery booth. Photo: Independent
Image courtesy of Sorry We’re Closed.
Photo: Matt Antoniak
Photo: Matt Antoniak
Ben Sledsens, Tiger in the Jungle (Homage to Henri Rousseau), 2016. Photo:Tim Van Laere Gallery
Issue 41 | May 2017 | 65
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.