Art Brussels Takes on Rival Art Cologne

Jack Pierson, Desperate?, 2009 at Xavier Hufkens (Brussels)


The 30th edition of Art Brussels went head to head with Art Cologne this past weekend. They opened just a day apart. The bulk of the fair comprised up-and-coming European galleries like Soy Capitán (Berlin), Torri (London), fluxia (Milan), Plan B (Cluj / Berlin), Motive Gallery (Amsterdam), Torri (Paris) and Hannah Barry (London). VidalCuglietta (Brussels) and Office Baroque (Antwerp) were among the young Belgian galleries; both  reported sold-out booths by the end of the second day. On the first day, Gallery Maskara (Mumbai) sold nearly all its paintings and drawings by Indian artist T. Vekanna, while Cherry and Martin (Los Angeles) sold out a solo presentation of six two-colored abstract paintings by Matt Connors.

The fair also attracted some big guns, among them Mai36 (Zürich), Perrotin (Paris), Barbara Gladstone (Brussels/New York), Galerie Krinzinger (Vienna), Pilar Corrias (London), Galleria Continua (San Gimignano) and Filomena Soares (Lisbon). Brussels local Xavier Hufkens sold a large work by Louise Bourgeois for over half a million dollars and a large-scale Sterling Ruby painting for $175,000. “I am very happy with the fair, though it could attract more international buyers,” Hufkens said.

Hufkens told A.i.A., “Art Brussels is a fair for mid-career and emerging artists.”Another Brussels dealer, Albert Baronian, elaborated, “Sales above $200,00 are rare at this fair.” Perrotin brought two relative unknowns: 70-year-old Frenchman Claude Rutault and the Colombian conceptual artist Ivan Argote, who was also represented by D+T Project (Brussels).

The scheduling overlap with Art Cologne, a 90-minute train ride from Brussels, was cause for chatter. “The two fairs are complementary,” Paris dealer Michel Rein told A.i.A. He had brought a selection of works by German artist Michael Riedel, all for under $30,000. Zwirner brought more expensive works by the same artist to Cologne.
Almine Rech’s booth looked good, with works by Richard Prince, Gregor Hildebrandt and Thomas Kiesewetter, who opened a solo show in the gallery during Art Brussels weekend. Listed neither on the web site nor the floor plan, Patrick Painter (Santa Monica) surprised attendees with excellent printer’s proofs of three works from the “Craft Morphology Flow Chart” series by Mike Kelley from 1991. They went for $45,000 a pop.

Participating in its first art fair after 20 years in business, Karsten Schubert (London) brought a booth of first-rate works on paper by Bridget Riley, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Marcel Duchamp and Mel Bochner, whose green enamel on paper word-work Old (2012) was reserved at $45,000 on the first day. It consisted of a humorous but disturbing sequence of associations with obsolescence, from “out of date” to “can’t get it up.”