Today not only the 32nd edition of Art Brussels opens its doors to the public but the city’s galleries also woo visitors with extended opening hours as part of the Brussels Gallery Night. Plus, countless artsy initiatives and parties are taking place throughout the Belgian capital, leaving you with a programme so vast it can be overwhelming at times. To guide you through this weekend’s art jungle, we’ve had a little chat with Sonia Dermience, founder and curator at Komplot, one of Brussels’ major non-profit art spaces.
Last year was the first time non-profit art spaces were accepted at Art Brussels and you participated. What was that like?
It’s always a bit difficult because we have to be in our permanent space as well as at the fair, so we need a lot of staff. But it was a good experience and we definitely attracted a new audience. We actually participate in one art fair each year.
Do you visit Art Brussels each year? Many gallerists and artists find it’s not the right place to show art…
If you are a curator and you live in Brussels you just have to go. But yes, it’s definitely made to sell. I like when galleries do solo shows, something that is rather rare at an art fair. Then you can dive deeper into an artist’s oeuvre. It’s not easy to do a good booth. It’s like curating an exhibition but you only have three white walls to fill. I’m not a huge fan of art fairs and prefer to go to galleries, but many collectors buy more easily at the fairs. I guess as a curator or artist you have a different perspective. It’s also interesting to focus on the more historical pieces: art from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s is already considered as historical. If your eyes are exercised you can easily select what’s interesting but if not, you’ll spend a lot of time at the fair.
How do you visit Art Brussels? Do you look at everything?
No. I always go several times though and follow my intuition. But of course there are always some galleries which I absolutely want to see.
This year you are recommending five different galleries to check out at the fair – why these ones?
The galleries and gallerists I suggested are the ones I can really identify with and whose work I follow regularly. We have the same vision and work with the same artists sometimes. And we belong to the same generation. Joseph Tang does quite a lot of conceptual shows but will also exhibit paintings. All those galleries are multidisciplinary and offer very varied exhibitions, something I really appreciate. I also work that way. Galleries should support very different and diverse artists and mediums. I can’t wait to see the Joseph Tang booth because they’re quite new and very ambitious. Crèvecoeur for example already exists for several years and is not afraid to take risks. Florian & Michael Quistrebert and Renaud Jerez are great artists, I’m sure it’s going to be a great booth. I’m happy they were selected.
What about the exhibitions you selected?
I think all these places offer a certain context and a special kind of architecture which makes them quite charming. They all represent interesting challenges for the artists. And I also really like the gallerists and curators working for them.
Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris
D+T Project, Brussels
Rowing Projects, London
Galerie Emmanuel Hervé, Paris
Galerie Joseph Tang, Paris
Delphine Deguislage at 105 Besme
“I work with Delphine since she is a student and she’s showing some of her most recent works. The expo is located in a private apartment which is quite special.”
Zin Taylor at Maison Grégoire
“The exhibition is again taking place in a private house, a living room. Zin has his studio here in Komplot. He works a lot with words and objects.”
Emily Wardill at La Loge
“Emily works in video art and belongs to the romantic and gothic movement. It’s quite interesting; a beautiful movie.”
Filip Van Dingenen at Rectangle
“Rectangle is a quite original project: they show art on a huge billboard in St Gilles.”
Grégoire Bergeret & Julia Kremer at Hekla
“Hekla is rather new and definitely worth checking out. It’s an artist-run space near Gare du Midi.”
Zoë Paul at Sébastien Ricou Gallery
“Zoë Paul is a young Greek artist who works a lot with textiles and painted silk. It’s somewhere in between sculpture and painting.”
Elena Bajo at D+T Project
“I love Elena’s work and work a lot with her myself. She uses a lot of recuperated material and texts.”
Limited edition furniture by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen and Studio Anne Holtropa at Maniera
“It’s a brand new project at the crossroads of architecture, design and art which is really interesting. This is their very first show.”
Peter Schuyff at Sorry we’re closed
“This is a great window exhibition space which you can visit at any time of day.”
Shelly Nadashi at Etablissment d’en Face
“I work with Shelly myself. She works a lot with puppets and her work is very narrative. She also makes performances.”
“This is a new artist-run space with a big studio where artists welcome other artists. At the moment they’re hosting a show with large-scale installations.
…and of course there is my own exhibition of Benjamin Valenza at Komplot!”
“If you’d like to get an overview of what’s going on this weekend I really recommend having a look at The Walk. It’s a guide which pays special attention to non-profit art spaces.”
“I really love Olivier Vandervliet’s Triangle Books. He just published two books on Saâdane Afif who is currently on show at Xavier Hufkens.
I also want to mention Bunk Club, a project by Mathias Wille and Laurence Dujardyn. They release a zine on Friday night at Le Cocq.”
Art Brussels closes on Sunday, 27 April