January is Brafa month! With the regularity of a fine watch-making mechanism, the doyenne of generalist fairs returns mid-winter with the aim of combining the best of the art on offer in Brussels. The 133 Belgian and international galleries gathered on the site of Tour & Taxis from 26 January to 2 February compete with a thousand temptations to warm the hearts of all art lovers and to arouse the keen interest of the most discerning collectors. The beautiful, the rare and the exceptional blend harmoniously, eliciting cravings, passion or impulse purchases, while paying tribute to creativity from the earliest times to the present day.
Whether you are a fan of the bas-reliefs of Ancient Egypt, the Roman marbles, mediaeval Virgins, 18th- century dressers, paintings by Flemish Masters, animal or modernist bronzes, Art Deco or Art Nouveau silverware, Wolfers jewellery, paintings by Belgian artists from the Laethem School, precious porcelain and archaic bronzes from China, Meissen or Tournai china, African and Oceanic masks, unusual objects from a cabinet of curiosities, stylish furniture, drawings and engravings and works by the greatest contemporary designers … one thing is clear: you have to go to Brafa to see all these treasures, and many more!
And rather than discovering all these marvels in isolation, or grouped together, Brafa offers to mix them up harmoniously, creating unexpected connections and dialogue between the thousands of works it brings together. From this proximity will emerge a new reading, a new look based on designs, the styles, origins, paths, materials, colours, artists and meanings of which seem to have nothing in common. Current taste is instead moving towards diversity, eclecticism, the abolition of borders and groups made up of scattered items and here, the choice of gender balance advocated by Brafa over many years is entirely contemporary.
The 65th edition of BRAFA art fair, which will take place from 26 January until 2 February 2020 in Brussels, Belgium, will be celebrated in a highly original manner with the exclusive exhibition and sale of five segments of the Berlin Wall.
The proceeds from the sale will be split among five beneficiaries (associations and museums) in the areas of cancer research, the social integration of people with disabilities and the preservation of art heritage. This initiative is only possible due to BRAFA’s nonprofit status which it has retained for 65 years and allows for greater investment in the arts and support of other non- profit organisations.
BRAFA’s visitors have come to expect a different guest of honour every year. These have included international museums, foundations and artists, who have all added their own unique touch to the event. In 2020, the art fair is choosing an innovative approach, launching an unusual initiative on the occasion of the 65th BRAFA in the form of a charity sale of original segments of the Berlin Wall.
These segments were already acquired in 2018, in anticipation of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 2019. They were taken from the Hinterlandmauer, or the 68-km ‘inner wall’ that blocked off the border strip to East Berlin. The segments were dismantled by the armed forces of the former German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, during the demolition works following the Fall of the Berlin Wall. They were subsequently acquired and re-used by a public works company that is based in a Berlin suburb. The segments, which are 3.8 m tall and 1.2 m wide, weighing 3.6 tons each, feature graffiti on both sides by anonymous street artists from different periods.
“Art Without Frontiers” – because never before has Brafa hosted so many foreign galleries. Numbering 84, these now represent 63% of the total number of exhibitors.
And this is to be applauded, as it confirms both the stability of the national market, where the myth of the Belgian collector is clearly still seductive, and the increased international power of the Fair, which grows with every edition.
This is an ideal start to the year, when the geographic position of Brussels at the centre of some of Europe’s wealthiest regions and its great connectivity with them, the quality of the Brussels hotels and the organisation of the Fair, as well as the relaxed Belgian style atmosphere of the event are probably all criteria which contribute to its attraction.
“Art Without Frontiers” – because Brafa has always aimed for a mix of styles, eras, and origins, and has made eclecticism and cross-collecting its real trademark.
This trend is particularly popular with today’s collectors and art lovers, who like to put together collections where old, modern, and contemporary live side by side; where an antique bust may be happy sitting cheek by jowl with an African mask or a 20th Century sculpture, showcased on an 18th Century chest of drawers under a designer mirror or framed masterpiece.
This is a reflection of our contemporary era, where we exchange, consume, buy, sell and travel well beyond our own frontiers and continents.
Brussels Fine Art Fair (BRAFA) will welcome Gilbert & George as Guest of Honour of its upcoming edition at Tour & Taxis in Brussels, 26 January – 3 February 2019.
In the half century that they have lived and created art together as Living Sculptures, embarked on a visionary journey through the modern world, always together and always alone, Gilbert & George have created fiercely singular Anti-Art that is poetic, primal and emotionally driven.
At BRAFA 2019, they will present five large-scale pictures that will be placed at various spots throughout the fair. Personally selected by Gilbert & George, there are from the recent series ‘JACK FREAK PICTURES’ (2008), ‘LONDON PICTURES’ (2010), ‘SCAPEGOATING PICTURES’ (2013) and ‘BEARD PICTURES’ (2016). Their quirky vision of the world is sure to be a hit in the land of surrealism!
With the support of Galerie Albert Baronian.
BRAFA 2018 has the great honour of welcoming one of the most renowned and influential contemporary artists in the person of Christo (82). An emblematic figure of New Realism along with his late wife Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009), the inseparable duo has come to be known in particular for their wrapping
of historic monuments and large-scale landscape installations. It is one of his historic work from the 1960s that will be presented at BRAFA.
The work specially chosen by Christo for BRAFA is titled Three Store Fronts (1965-66). This sculpture was first displayed at the municipal Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Later it was included in the exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Early Works, 1958-69 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 2001. More than 14m long and 2.5m tall, it will also be the largest work ever on show at BRAFA!
In 1963, still in Paris, Christo had begun making the Show Cases. He acquired small glass display cases or medicine cabinets at the flea market and turned their function around by hanging fabric or pasting paper on the inside of the panes. In some cases he illuminated the inside of the showcases with a light bulb or suggested luxurious decadence by lining the inside with satin or silk.
If the Show Cases were more like little meditations comparable to the early Wrapped Cans or Packages, the proportions of the life-sized Show Windows and Store Fronts that were done after Christo and Jeanne-Claude had emigrated to New York in 1964 recalled the gigantic dimensions of New York architecture.
BRAFA 2017 pays homage to an artist who is a major influence behind contemporary art, Julio Le Parc. Born in 1928, a pioneer of Op Art and Kinetic Art, a founder member of G.R.A.V. (Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel), winner of the international Grand Prize in Painting at the Venice 1966 Biennale, Julio Le Parc is a forthright, committed artist. His abundant work, in its many forms, imbued with a spirit of research and experimentation, explores the visual field, movement, light, and the relationship between the work and the viewer.
“We want to interest spectators, release them from their inhibitions, make them relax. We want to get them to participate. We want to put them in a situation which they themselves initiate and transform. We want them to be oriented towards interaction with other spectators. We want to develop a great capacity for perception and action in the spectator.” – Julio Le Parc.