This edition of Brussels Gallery Weekend was set to be a feast for the eyes, packed full of surprises, with no fewer than forty-six art galleries participating in the circuit this year. Here’s a guided tour through the fair.
Yves Zurstrassen’s work is always moving, going from lyrical abstraction to abstract expressionism and vice versa. The Belgian artist develops a singular creating process and uses a very particular technique that reflects the desire to go beyond temporality. His approach plays with the principle of collage and take-off of various forms of paper on successive layers of colour. So the layers of pigments add up and subtract, letting emerge by fragments the skin of the canvas or the archeology of its construction. Far away from any formalism, the artist works the gesture in a wild succession of applications and withdrawals. Yves Zurstrassen confronts his spontaneous, sometimes violent, body movements with the delicacy of the floral, stellar and wave-like motives he uses. He creates wefts and networks, bringing to light the rhythm. The gesture is lyrical and makes prevail the musicality.
A group of paintings in “Unrehearsed Conversation”, Valerie Mannaerts’ third solo show at Bernier/ Eliades Gallery, belongs to a creation process outside the studio, yet not specifically out of the urge of being physically in a surrounding space which is the subject of the works. They rather evolved from a very personal need of the artist to be close to the physical artefact of her artworks, to put herself into the space of her work when she can not be in her studio. Mannaerts worked during the last year on paintings she groups under the title “The Accumulation of Unrecorded Life”, made with pencil, oilpaint, embroidery and textile on approximately 40x40cm fabrics; a format that enabled her to expand her studio to other locations and continue with concentration. The paintings show different results of the physical act with hands: lines drawn with pencil, surfaces coloured with brush and thread, sometimes blurred with a layer of tulle. They are abstract compositions on small pieces of canvas, which Mannaerts carried with her to reclaim the time occupied by the practicalities of daily life.
Damien & The Love Guru
Emanuele Marcuccio was born in Veneto to a family of Apulian landowners, giving life to an accent that preserves the worst aspects of both inflections. The industrial traditions of the north-east accustomed him – from an early age – to the prospect of an entrepreneurial life, but it was the circumstances of life that led him to deal with art. In an attempt to remedy the nostalgia of a more productive world, his art often relies on local iron and steel industries, with which he shares the same formal priorities: desire for efficiency and hard work. The war to the formal approximation is the aspect that most characterizes Marcuccio’s practice, despite that, the human tragedy of production as a perpetration transpires in each of his piece making it profoundly human. (Daniele Milvio)
The objects collected by Marianne Berenhaut are staged and linked in installations designated under the general title ‘Vie Privée’ (Private Life). They then become actors of imaginary situations and stories that each spectator can recompose. Between humor and tragedy, these works are all linked by recurring themes, linked to the personal story of Marianne Berenhaut who lost her parents and her older brother in the Nazi extermination camps as a child. Her installations evoke childhood, vain expectation and absence. A clear example is ‘En rang’ composed of smashed typewriters that shape a chaotic procession which suggests abandonment. The memory whispers and highlights a decomposed past that generates various interpretations.
Through different media, Benoît Huot (with stuffed animals covered with jewels and textiles) and Rithika Merchant (with her delicate inks on paper) invite us to unreal encounters with hybrid and colorful creatures. From recycled elements (jewels, textiles, stuffed animals, pieces of furniture), Huot creates baroque trophies and implements an original and flamboyant animism. With her delicate colour palette and sophisticated patterns, offers an enchanted world with its own magical language, its mysteries and myths.
Bhabha’s sculptures are informed by a myriad of cultural references andexecuted in an equally diverse range of materials, processes and techniques.She is known for her evocative assemblages crafted from modest andunconventional materials (clay, Styrofoam, wood, wire, plaster, jute, paint) and for her powerful, totemic figures in materials such as cork or bronze.Inparallel, Bhabha also creates complex, multi-layered works on paper inwhich the fearsome and the strange are rendered penetrating and beautiful.
Pierre Marie Giraud
Yuki Hayama has been internationally celebrated for decades, exposing his creations all around the globe. A native to the town of Arita in the South-West of Japan, also known as the birthplace of the country’s ceramic tradition, Hayama has been surrounded by the ancient art form ever since he was a child. His father, a ceramic merchant, familiarised his son with the delicate secrets of pottery. Still, the artist himself quickly realised that he wanted to take the craft to a whole other level. Throughout the years, Hayama has developed a totally unique and instantly recognizable style. He decorates hisceramics with meticulously hand painted sceneries, which are applied with a brush. For inspiration, the artist turns to Japanese mythology and nature. He wants his creations to have meaning and he does not support the slogan ‘art for art’s sake’. Instead, he makes an ongoing effort to explain his work and the thoughts that evoked his creativity. According to Hayama, understanding and appreciating the background in which design patterns are born, is essential to approach their true essence. “History,” as he likes to state, “is the only measure we can use to predict our future.”
Galerie Greta Meert
Louise Lawler primarily works with photography to raise questions about the circumstances under which art gets produced, presented, and the way it circulates in the world. By diving into the cultural, institutional and political frameworks that shape our encounter with art, she devices new terms for the viewer’s engagement and reception.
Vercruysse explores the image as a window that opens onto the real and the imaginary. The figurative space takes new shapes in the defined frame, sometimes blurred by frosted glass or a projected shadow. At different levels, the object appears in a humanised landscape, but without a human presence. It is transformed by daylight, at dawn or dusk, creating visual impressions that emerge from a facade, a landscape, a bouquet of flowers… Frederik Vercruysse invites the visitor to confront the analogue image pushed to the limit, pixelated, becoming truer to itself the closer one gets. Purposefully blurred and distorted in a decomposition that is recreated by our eye that tries to capture its presence, the composition of the image becomes impressionistic and is reborn as the pointillist work of a painter with small brushstrokes. Windows thus conveys, in Vercruysse’s unique language, a body of poetic images that respond to one another between non-pictorial pictures (Window Stills), and composed objects reflecting the ‘mirror of the soul’ (the Light Boxes and the Mirror Glass Boxes).
Philippe Cognée was born in 1957 in Nantes, France, where he lives and works. His paintings use wax that is heated and crushed, producing a blurred effect and raising questions such as the thinning away of the image and the human condition in the light of humans’ relationship to their urban environment. The artist draws inspiration from photos and videos of elements such as motorways, buildings and aerial shots. His work questions the role of art in a society where new digital technologies have ushered in the era of the image, both omnipresent and diminished.
Info is sourced from the press releases of the galleries.