It’s this time of year again: Art Brussels is coming to town. The art fair is the highlight of the Belgian art calendar, attracting about 25 000 homegrown and international art lovers each year. Over the last years, it has built a reputation to be a place where collectors can make great discoveries and spot new talent – not only because of its high-quality “Discovery section”. Here are 10 artists on the rise we think you should check out at this year’s edition.
© Courtesy the artist/Dauwens & Beernaert
Loïc Van Zeebroek at Dauwens & Beernaert
At the tender age of 23, Belgian artist Loïc Van Zeebroek already scored his first solo show at Brussels gallery Dauwens & Beernaert – a giant step for an art school graduate. Two years later, he’s present at Art Brussels with his fascinating paintings, which question the construction of the pictorial image, from figuration to abstraction and vice-versa. Finding his very own path in a historically charged genre, he creates spaces for contemplation by eliminating the references of his inspiration sources (romantic landscape paintings and educational geographic images, for example).
© Courtesy the artist/ Harlan Levey Projects
Haseeb Ahmed at Harlan Levey Projects
US-born artist Haseeb Ahmed interestingly finds overlaps in two areas that do not touch that often: art and science. His research-based practice often draws on tools and techniques from the hard sciences, such as the artist’s most prominent project to date: “The Wind Egg”. The concept of “wind eggs” postulates that animals and people can be fertilized by wind – a belief held for thousands of year by ancient Egyptian, Arab, Indian, European and Chinese cultures. Ahmed worked together with the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Belgium, using state-of-the-art wind tunnel technology, resulting in a mind-boggling installation that brought together art and aeronautics, myth and technology. This week you can discover Ahmed’s brainy universe not only at Harlan Levey’s Art Brussels booth but also at his gallery space, which hosts a solo show by the artist: Ruach not Rauch (Ruach: Breath of God in ancient Hebrew; Rauch: Smoke in German).
© Courtesy the artist/Marion de Cannière
Elias Cafmeyer at Marion de Cannière
Belgian, Antwerp-based artist Elias Cafmeyer only graduated from art school two years ago, and now his work is already being shown at one of the major international art fairs – if that isn’t an achievement! In his practice, Cafmeyer makes sculptures, video installations and site-specific works while exploring themes addressing public space and its use within the city. This fascination with the urban is reflected in the use of industrial materials such as metal, untreated wood and concrete.
© Courtesy the artist/Michel Rein
Edgar Sarin at Michel Rein
Edgar Sarin has a different background than most of his fellow artists: before immersing himself in the art world, he studied engineering with a specialization in renewable energies. In his artistic practice, the Paris-based artist does not show an interest in science though, but rather a penchant for surrealism: some artworks will only be entirely revealed to the collector upon their creator’s death, and at one exhibition he communicated, in Morse, the address where the visitor would find the most important piece of the show. Sarin, who continues to surprise with his playful and unpredictable practice, also runs art space Le Cercle de la Horla and won the Bourse Emerige prize in 2016.
© Courtesy the artist/Sofie Van de Velde & Plus One
Pieter Jennes at Sofie Van de Velde & Plus One
Pieter Jennes studied painting at Antwerp’s prestigious Royal Academy and also earned a post-graduate degree in curatorial studies. Born in the Belgian town of Mortsel, he now lives and works in Antwerp, making sculptures and paintings. After many solo and group shows in his homeland, this is a great chance for the young artist to present his practice to a wider, international audience. Jennes’ pieces explore narratives of representation and becoming, of inclusion and exclusion, something he describes as “alternative historiographies”.
© Courtesy the artist/Drdova gallery
Barbora Kleinhamplová at Drdova gallery
Czech gallery Drdova dedicates its entire booth to homegrown conceptual multimedia artist Barbora Kleinhamplová. Titled “Sickness Report”, her films and sculptural as well as found objects and diagrams examine current political-economical structures an the consequences of a neoliberal system through a metaphorical voyage that includes building luxurious yachts and fabricating medications. A middle-class-dream-turned-nightmare that gives a lot of food for thought.
© Courtesy the artist/Tyburn gallery
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami at Tyburn gallery
At the booth of London-based Tyburn gallery, you’ll find the spellbinding works of Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, whose practice explores issues surrounding diaspora, displacement and identity. Born in Zimbabwe and having lived in South Africa from the ages of 9 to 17 while now being based in the UK, these themes partly overlap with her personal experiences. In 2016, the year of her graduation from art school, she was awarded the Clyde & Co. Award and the Young Achiever of the Year Award at the Zimbabwean International Women’s Awards, as well as being shortlisted for Bloomberg New Contemporaries. One year later she scored her first solo show at Tyburn, and this year her both bold and tender works will even be on view at the 58th Venice Biennale as part of the Zimbabwe pavilion. Talk about a shooting star! The success is well-deserved: experimenting with combining oil painting with other techniques and materials such as photography, digitally collaged images, silkscreen, or charcoal, she creates vivid works that are powerful, personal, and universal, raising questions about the black body and its representation, as well as sexuality, gender and spirituality.
© Courtesy the artist/Proyectos Monclova
Ištvan Išt Huzjan at Proyectos Monclova
The Mexican gallery presents an original solo project by Slovenian, Brussels-based artist Ištvan Išt Huzjan. "Thank you all for coming", consisting of 92 photographs, takes over the entire booth. The photographs are the physical manifestation of a performance Huzjan did earlier this year at Proyectos Monclova in Mexico City. At the opening of his show, the artist shook hands and spoke with visitors attending the inauguration, presenting himself and expressing his gratitude for their attendance, always starting with the sentence: “Thank you for coming.” Each interaction was documented with the photograph of a handshake, revealing an intimate human gesture without any hierarchies or agenda while shining a light on a tradition that seems to have lost its meaning.
© Courtesy the artist/l'Etrangère
Anita Witek at l’Étrangère
Considering that Witek is known for large, site-specific installations allowing the viewer to experience her photographic montages three-dimensionally, it doesn’t come as a surprise that l’Étrangère is dedicating a solo booth to the Austrian artist. In her practice, she repeatedly raises questions about the relationship between the original and reproduction, reality and representation: drawing on a massive archive of magazines, books and posters, Witek manipulates source material in order to form new, abstract configurations, interrupting our perceptual habits and instinct to rapidly consume the imagery that permeates today’s society.
© Courtesy the artist/Charlotte Fogh
Louis Reith at Charlotte Fogh
Louis Reith, represented not only by Danish gallery Charlotte Fogh but also by Mini Galerie in his home country, the Netherlands, as well as by Loom gallery in Italy, creates drawings, collages, paintings and installations. No matter which medium: al works are reminiscent of natural themes translated into abstract compositions, drawing attention to the contrasting play between the mechanical and the natural. The universe of the thirty-something with an interest in printed matter, book design and craftsmanship skillfully toys with form, color and balance. His compositions are “made intuitively and refined consciously”.