Collect – After several eventful years, between the 2022 edition, which was canceled in 2021 and postponed to June due to the pandemic, Brafa finds its dates in January and in a new setting for 2021: the Brussels Fair. Housing a range of objects from all disciplines and origins of five thousand years of art history, the eclectic fair is a privileged place to collect Belgian art, representing the country’s Belgian art from 1830 to the present day. Marrying international trends, Belgian art managed to find its own balance between foreign contributions and local characteristics, both in fine and decorative arts.
The event brings together the country’s best brands: 52 of the 130 galleries presented for this 68th edition are Belgian, and most of them feature Belgian artists. Among them are Artimo Art (focuses on sculptures from the 1800s to 1950s, mainly marble and bronze sculptures by Belgian artists), Oscar De Vos (focuses on paintings, drawings and sculptures of the Laethem school – Saint-Martin), Thomas Deprez Art (this , focusing on fin de siècle Belgian art with a special focus on Brussels avant-garde society, the Group des XX and the Impressionist and Symbolist movements) or the Galerie Maurice Verbaet (mainly dedicated to post-war Belgian art). Some Belgian artists can be found at a number of stands, such as painter Emile Klaus or goldsmith Philippe Wolfers. Pierre Alechinsky is particularly well represented this year: Samuel Vanhoegaerden has produced “the most important exhibition in Belgium for a long time”, while Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke has brought together 12 of the artist’s works. Even foreign galleries take the opportunity to bring some Belgian works (Alexis Bordes, Boulakia, Morentz, Studio 2000, etc.). Finally, it should be noted that Art Nouveau, one of the main centers of Belgium, is the chosen theme for 2023. Several stands feature games, and the famous Brafa carpet is based on original drawings by Belgian architect Victor Horta.
1. Seghers gallery (visible) – From 1862, Félicien Rops (1833-1898) produced 34 frontispieces for Auguste Poulet-Malassis, often with strong erotic content, as here. Rops creates the image of a sultry artist not only because he depicts the world of prostitution, but also because he does not hesitate to show human associations. He openly mocks the puritanism and hypocrisy of his time. Enter here Aphrodites, From 1864, the artist, who painted for the frontispiece of Andréa de Nerciat’s book, takes up the theme of the island of love, which Watteau treated in a more modest way in 1718. Boarding for Cythera.
2. Samuel Vanhoegaerden Gallery (knokke) – Alechinsky’s artistic experience is characterized by experimentation, rejection of conventions and division of genres into sections. This Lapland party refers to a set of acrylic paintings with “marginal notes” inaugurated in Central park(1965), the principle is as follows: the central image is framed by a series of vignettes spread to the sides. Inspired by comics and engravings, these vignettes complement or comment on the central representation.
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3. Fine period jewelry (Kortrijk) – After some research, the gallery, which purchased what appeared to be a brooch from the sponsor’s descendants, was able to determine that the peacock was the centerpiece of the tiara. Peacock Missing from the archive of Philippe Wolfers (1858-1929). According to the archives, it is a rare work made in 1902-1903. Thanks to unique pieces of jewelry that are rare on the market, Wolfers is considered one of the best artists who designed Art Nouveau jewelry in the early 20th century.
4. Galerie Harold T’kint De Roodenbeke (Brussels) – Created a sculptor in 1898 The kneeling fountain, an undeniable masterpiece of symbolist sculpture of five figures around a basin: the introverted art of George Minne (1866-1941) and his attraction to the Gothic (stretching of the body) culminate here. A large version, which graced the 1935 World Fair in Brussels, is now placed in front of the Brussels Parliament. This carving (Big Kneeling de la fontaine), this time painted in gold leaf, is a second version of the first, commissioned by a collector from Ghent and now in the Algiers Museum.