Emma Geliot's picture

Leviathan's Daughters, Michael Kvium, oil on canvas, 2014

The 33rd edition of Art Brussels hosted 191 galleries from 33 countries. The fair attempted to address the slippage between high end collecting, curating and the gritty process of creating through a number of interesting initiatives. Ric Bower reports.

On the insistence of Artistic Director, Katerina Gregos, the work in Art Brussels was generously spaced and the sense of calm this approach engendered seemed to in turn inform many of the curatorial decisions. Cheap tricks to get the punters through the door gave way to subtle and considered arrangements of two-dimensional works. The range of expressive possibilities, this age-old vehicle offers, were more than fully explored in many of the gallery spaces. To pick a few personal highlights, Willem Oorbeek's Retake Babel, at the, was a huge trompe-l' il cotton Gobelins tapestry depicting a crumpled computer print out. The illusory representation re-engages the human propensity for wonder, and what it depicted, the Tower of Babel on Google, (an interesting juxtaposition in its own right), reminded the viewer of the also very human propensity to fuck up.

-Retake Babel, Willem Oorbeek, Cotton Gobelins tapestry, 2009

Michael Kvium's Leviathan's Daughters (see image top) is presented at Galleri Bandstrup from Oslo, he demonstrated how Eric Fischl might paint have painted his in-laws. Photography is well represented and, aside from the usual suspects, there were some real gems. Hrair Sarkissian, showing at Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, documents file repositories, archives and libraries in Istanbul in a body of work entitled Istory. The file repositories he explores might conceivably have contained evidence of his own grandparent's flight to Syria in 1915. The mysterious and restrained large-scale C-type prints allow imagined narratives to emerge and then disappear into their inky black depths.

Istory, Hrair Sarkissian, 2011

Kalfayan Galleries is categorised in the Young section of emerging galleries. Rather than being geographically separate from the well-established galleries they were beautifully folded into the main sections of the fair. Sadly, the excellent Not-for-Profit section, which included Renzo Martens Institute for Human Activities, the Amsterdam based group RONGWRONG, Nieuwe Vide and Brussels based c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e, Artists Club/Coffre Fort and Enough Room for Space, were not afforded the same courtesy. I interviewed Katerina Gregos with Artists' Club/Coffre Fort and The Holls Collective, who slipped in and out of the conversation to continue their performance, Got my mind on confetti and confetti on my mind, in the Nieuwe Vide booth next door. We considered the potential agency of creative practice, its relationship to the art world and to society as a whole. The responses Gregos, and the artists gave were electric and will be published in the July issue of CCQ.

The big news of the weekend was that Art Brussels will be relocating to the historic and grand Tour and Taxis in the centre of Brussels next year. I am looking forward to it.

Image Credits (top to bottom: Leviathan s Daughters, Michael Kvium, oil on canvas, 2014 Retake Babel, Willem Oorbeek, Cotton Gobelins tapestry, 2009 Istory, Hrair Sarkissian, 2011

There will be more on Art Brussels in issue 7 of CCQ magazine