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The fresh wind blown into Art Brussels by the fair’s new artistic director Katerina Gregos already noticeable last year seems to have grown even stronger. The past weekend’s 32nd edition, which attracted almost 30 000 visitors, had a fresh, young, and vibrant feel to it, especially when cruising through the alleys of Hall 1, the section hosting the non-profit art spaces, first-timers and more emerging galleries and artists. Solo shows and thematic group expos successfully tried to break open the usual booth monotony, adding some spice to the whole ordeal. In no particular order and with a slight emphasis on realistic painting and photography, here are the 16 artists and galleries that stuck with us.

1. Rinus Van De Velde, Muntean and Rosenblum and Sarah Westphal at Galerie Zink, Berlin

Berlin’s Galerie Zink presented one of the most fascinating booth’s at the fair. It not only featured a large-scale charcoal self-portrait by rising Belgian superstar Rinus Van De Velde but also one of Muntean and Rosenblum’s big-sized, colorful paintings, always accompanied by a written caption at the bottom. The artist duo, based in Vienna and London, has been working together since 1992, referencing contemporary popular culture, art history and Christian iconography in its creations. A pleasant discovery: German artist Sarah Westphal’s sensual and mysterious work Kratzer /Scratches.

2. Léopold Rabus and HeHe at Aeroplastics, Brussels

Aeroplastics attracted quite some visitors with a model of a nuclear power station constructed by Paris-based art and design duo HeHe whose practice explores the relationship between the individual and their urban environment. Another highlight: Léopold Rabus’ Une Brise, one of his large-scale oil paintings. Against the backdrop of the typical landscape of his homeland the Swiss artist creates artworks which are otherworldly, romantic and at times a bit gruesome.

3. Julian Charrière at Dittrich and Schlechtriem, Berlin

The Berlin-based gallery presented a solo show of emerging French-Swiss artist Julian Charrière. His Panorama series mimicking Alpine landscapes is the result of chalk-covered construction sites photographer in Berlin.

4. Lara Gasparotto, Chen Wei and Ren Hang at Stieglitz, Antwerp

Stieglitz lived up to its reputation as one of Belgium’s best photography galleries with a selection including works by current everybody’s darling Lara Gasparotto as well as a number of up-and-coming Chinese photographers such as Chen Wei and Ren Hang. Beijing-based Wei is especially known for his conceptual works resembling theatre scenes which he builds in his studio.

5. Iris Levasseur at Galerie Odile Ouizeman, Paris

Autour d’une Figure is a big-sized paper drawing by Paris-born artist Iris Levasseur. Human beings and bodies are at the center of her fascinating work.

6. Boris Tellegen at Alice Gallery, Brussels

Brussels’ Alice Gallery, which has a bit of a penchant for street art, dedicated a whole booth to Boris Tellegen, one of the 29 solo shows at the fair. The former graffiti artist aka Delta particularly intrigued visitors with a large-scale wall built from scratch. It’s cut open at one point, revealing an intricate layered system of geometric structures.

7. Ann Veronica Janssens at Axel Vervoordt, Antwerp

Standing out at the booth of Axel Vervoordt was the so-called Magic Mirror by Belgian Ann Veronica Janssens, a Belgian artist whose practice is based on one’s sensorial experience and which aims to explore the relations between body and space.

8. Leo Gabin at Elizabeth Dee, New York

These collages are the creations of Leo Gabin, a Belgian artist collective from Ghent. Its three members draw inspiration from user-generated media on the internet, mixing it up with found objects and abstract painting. Their work stretches from digital media and video to sculpture and drawing.

9. Adam Jeppesen at Galerie Van Der Mieden, Brussels

The mesmerizing works by Danish photographer Adam Jeppesen are results of his journeys around the world. Challenging the boundaries between documentary and fiction they draw the spectator in with their quiet, melancholic beauty. Surely one to watch out for in the future.

10. Zhu Xinyu at Hadrien de Montferrand Gallery, Beijing

The gallery, based in Beijing and founded by two Frenchmen, solely focuses on works of paper. Standing out were the somber, melancholic paintings by Chinese artist Zhu Xinyu. 

11. Michael Wolf at Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp

Antwerp’s Fifty One Fine Art Gallery, another major player in the Belgian photography scene, impressed with this photograph by German-born Michael Wolf. It’s part of his spellbinding series “Architecture of density” which documents Hongkong’s dense urban structures from an original perspective.

12. Juan Paparella at Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles

Curators Benoît Dusart and Marie-Noëlle Dailly presented a solo show by Argentinian-born, Belgium-based artist Juan Paparella who mainly deals with questions about human nature, its fate and its vulnerability. His work is currently exhibited at Ghent’s Cecilia Jaime Gallery.

13. Patrick Bernatchez at Battat Contemporary, Montréal

The only Canadian gallery at the fair, Battat Contemporary, presented a solo show of Québec artist Patrick Bernatchez, who has already showcased his work at venues like the Palais de Tokyo. He works with several mediums from photography and installation to video and painting and since 2009 is dedicated to his multidisciplinary Lost in Time project. In his creations Bernatchez develops a futuristic, timeless world, exploring themes like death, metamorphosis and renewal.

14. Andrés Galeano at Grimmuseum, Berlin

Spanish artist Andrés Galeano, mainly known as a performance artist, shows another side of his artistic oeuvre at the booth of Berlin’s Grimmuseum. The artworks are part of his project Unknown Photographers which is based on an extensive collection of found photographs. “I look for poetic gestures to transform banality (banal moments) into something valuable and remarkable. I aim to create iconographic images through everyday snapshots. I also use them more as abstract objects, focusing more on composition and latent meanings of the photos,” says the artist.

15. Hans Op De Beeck at Galleria Continua, San Gimignano

The Garret is a life-size installation by Belgian artist Hans Op De Beeck, a deserted scene taken from contemporary everyday life. His overall oeuvre consists of sculptures, installations, video work, photography, animated films, drawings, paintings and writing.

16. Jorge Mayet at Horrach Moya Gallery, Palma

This installation at the booth of Horrach Moya Gallery is part of Jorge Mayet’s Roots series. The uprooted tree installations by the Cuban-born artist based in Spain hint at an uprooted human being. “I recreate with wires, paper, and other elements my own landscapes which at the same time form part of my culture, my roots, and the identity of my town,” says the artist.

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