Apollo Magazine (UK)

BRAFA Preview

Emma Crichton-Miller selects her highlights of the adapted fair

- Emma Crichton-Miller is an Apollo columnist. For more informatio­n about BRAFA, visit www.brafa.art.

This is not really an emergency concept,’ is how Beatrix Bourdon, BRAFA’s managing director, describes the Brussels art fair’s solution to the ongoing challenges of Covid- . ‘We wanted something that would not be cancelled.’ Last October, faced with the uncertaint­y created by the pandemic, BRAFA came up with ‘BRAFA in the galleries’, an alternativ­e fair that would neverthele­ss honour the direct relationsh­ip between dealer and collector. Rather than going digital, BRAFA – now in its th edition – invited each of the participan­ts that had confirmed for to create an exhibition in their own gallery, although some have since chosen to partner with colleagues or show in special locations. A total of galleries from across

countries and cities confirmed their involvemen­t. The majority of these exhibition­s will all open for the same dates and times ( – January), with a preview on January – the day that BRAFA was scheduled to open in Brussels.

The enhanced BRAFA website provides space for each gallery to display up to nine objects (six viewable only from January) and a video about its show, alongside downloadab­le city maps for visitors; the four scheduled conference­s will also be live streamed. But the essence of this year’s edition is to draw attention back to the real, physical world. As Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke, BRAFA’s president, says: ‘These past few months were a potent reminder of how important direct and personal contact is in our relationsh­ips. Between a collector and a work of art, between a buyer and a dealer. Our trade is profoundly human because it is founded on emotion first and foremost. We hope that this initiative can reestablis­h this link, in an environmen­t and under conditions that respect the measures in force in the various countries.’

Galleries new to BRAFA this year are enthusiast­ic. Waddington Custot in London is pleased to present works from artists including Jean Dubuffet (Fig. ), Barry Flanagan, Fabienne Verdier and Bernar Venet, to ‘the vibrant, engaged and research-driven collectors in Belgium’, as senior director Roxana Afshar puts it. São Roque – Antiguidad­es e Galeria de Arte from Lisbon exhibits a rare late th-/early th-century carved ivory staff handle from the Kingdom of Kongo, boldly modelled as a high-ranking official dressed in European costume, alongside a

th-century silver-mounted tortoisesh­ell casket from Gujarat.

Some galleries are travelling to Belgium anyway, anxious not to miss their annual appointmen­t with local collectors. Geneva-based Galerie de Jonckheere, leading specialist in Flemish Old Masters, sets up shop in a grand private space on Rue Américaine, while London-based Whitford Fine Art is showing in a private apartment in Brussels. ‘We have one absolute gem,’ director Adrian Mibus tells me: a dramatic, black-and-red, highly textured abstract canvas by the Dutch painter Bram Bogart entitled Des Briques from

– ‘before they [the works] get very thick’. Francis Maere, meanwhile, hosts a ‘miniBRAFA’ in his space at the Hotel Falligan, a rococo townhouse with ornate interiors in Ghent. Alongside his own display of paintings by contempora­ry American artist Pierre Clerk, he has invited six other galleries each to take a room, including Galerie Steinitz, Galerie Mathivet, Didier Claes and Galerie Sismann (Fig. ). ‘It will be small, casual, sympatheti­c. It will be nice,’ he says.

 ??  ?? 1. Lieux et action 27 juin 1979, 1979, Jean Dubuffet (1901–85), acrylic and collage on canvas-backed paper, 51 × 70.2cm. Waddington Custot (price on applicatio­n)
1. Lieux et action 27 juin 1979, 1979, Jean Dubuffet (1901–85), acrylic and collage on canvas-backed paper, 51 × 70.2cm. Waddington Custot (price on applicatio­n)
 ??  ?? 2. Virgin and Child, c. 1400, eastern Normandy or French Vexin, polychrome limestone with traces of gilt, ht 147cm. Galerie Sismann (price on applicatio­n)
2. Virgin and Child, c. 1400, eastern Normandy or French Vexin, polychrome limestone with traces of gilt, ht 147cm. Galerie Sismann (price on applicatio­n)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom