Top image: Josh Sperling, ‘Tiger by the Tail’ (2017) Copyright SWAC

Since its inception in 1968, Art Brussels has cemented its place as a hotbed of emerging artistic talent, boasting a tightly curated mix of both emerging and established artists from some of the biggest and most innovative galleries in the world.

As managing director Anne Vierstraete here explains, over the course of 35 years Art Brussels has maintained its status as one of Europe’s most noteworthy art fairs. At the centre of this? An impressive spotlighting of nascent rising talent. Playing host to 145 galleries from 28 different countries, this year’s programme is an art lover’s dream, allowing visitors to fill their boots with unique installations, special collaborative projects and live talks from artistic trailblazers.

Overwhelming at first glimpse, the line-up is mouth-wateringly intriguing. But don’t panic, for Vierstraete here shares her must-see takeaways from this year’s event. Take note.

“One thing to look out for this year is the Sorry We’re Closed booth as they typically have a very curated approach to the work they bring to Art Brussels,” says Vierstraete. “The 2017 booth is called YOU ARE MY HEROES and explores the subjects of presentation and display and the difference between the direct instinctual experience of emotion when viewing an artwork and the more gradual emotional experience when perceiving a work in greater depth.   

The gallery asks visitors to this booth to question their immediate emotional reactions to the works, encouraging them to explore more abstract understandings. The booth will be an installation in the shape of a stage at three levels featuring works by artists such as John De Andrea, Thomas Downing, Gerasimos Floratos, Chris Hammerlein, Zachary Leener, Eddie Martinez and Peter Schuyff among others. They will also present a solo booth of works by Josh Sperling.”

Josh Sperling, 'Tiger by the Tail' (2017) Copyright SWAC

“Art Brussels places great emphasis on the individual presentation of artists to encourage a deeper understanding of individual artistic practices. This year we have 18 galleries in our SOLO section, each presenting a single artist.

I would like to particularly focus on women artists among those selected to exhibit in the SOLO booths, with notable names including Rose Wylie, Diana Al-Hadid, Laure Prouvost, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jill Baroff and Grazia Varisco. The range is very diverse – from Diana Al Hadid’s monumental sculptures, Turner prize-winner Laure Prouvost’s mixed media installations made with found objects, Niki de Saint Phalle’s bright and instantly recognisable sculptures to British painter Rose Wylie’s eccentric paintings.”

“I would like to particularly focus on women artists among those selected to exhibit in the SOLO booths… From Diana Al Hadid’s monumental sculptures [to] Turner prize-winner Laure Prouvost’s mixed media installations made with found objects…”

“For the 2017 edition, we have seen a particular interest in Art Brussels from a number of historical galleries who have been operating in the art market for over thirty years, for example Galerie Jahn und Jahn (formerly Fred Jahn) and Galerie Karl Pfefferle from Münich; Wetterling Gallery from Stockholm; Chelouche Gallery, Tel Aviv; and Art Bärtschi & Cie who herald from Geneva. We are so delighted to welcome further important newcomers to this year’s edition from Europe, such as Skopia / P.-H. Jaccaud from Geneva and Monica de Cardenas from Milan, but also from cities ranging from Singapore to Mexico City, Shanghai to Seoul.”

See a selection of works by newcomer artists showing at Art Brussels 2017 below.

“Discovery has always been a strong motivation for Belgian art collectors, who are often known to support artists by buying early on in their careers. The DISCOVERY section presents 30 galleries who actively support emerging international artists that are not yet known within the European context, and whose practice constitutes a real ‘discovery’ – the essential DNA of the fair.

There is a strong sense that the work is urgent, current and of our time; all of the works on show are produced between 2014 and 2017. For instance, Edel Assanti, London will show works by Babak Golkar. Golkar was born in the United States, raised in Tehran and has lived between Canada and the Middle East since 1996; his works respond to the space between these cultures and investigate the strain between pre-modern and modern traditions. Well-established gallery, Anne de Villepoix (Paris), participates in this section with works by Jean Denant, the up-and-coming artist whose installations are made up of raw materials used on construction sites. Carroll/Fletcher, London present video works by artist due Paul Harrison and John Wood who are often described as the art-world equivalent to Laurel and Hardy!”

“I am very excited for this year’s flagship artistic project taking place within the fair which focuses on objects collected by 73 artists, all of whom are represented by galleries that are participating in Art Brussels 2017. We are proud that it is somewhat an atypical exhibition project for an art fair as it explores an intimate side of collecting and offers an alternative view to our personal investment in objects.

We have had the great pleasure of working with Jens Hoffmann and curator and critic Piper Marshall whom Jens brought into the fold and participating artists will include Shezad Dawood, Wim Delvoye, Jenny Holzer, Alex Israël, Christian Jankowski, Linder, Jonathan Monk, Laure Prouvost and Gert & Uwe Tobias among many more! Objects will include Joseph Kosuth’s signed thank you note from Hillary Clinton after Kosuth donated a work for auction to fundraise for her first US senate campaign; and an elephant paw and postcard belonging to Omar Ba, which he describes as reflecting his strong connection with the history of Africa during the colonial period.”

“Highlights include an elephant paw and postcard belonging to Omar Ba, which he describes as reflecting his strong connection with the history of Africa during the colonial period.”

“All of the art world hotly anticipates the 57th Venice Biennale in May and we are no exception. We are excited to have an exhibition of works from Dirk Braeckman who will represent Belgium at the Venice Biennale this year, taking place in the lounge of Art Brussels’s partner Stibbe. Talks at the fair will further develop on the topic, featuring a conversation between Dirk Braeckman and curator of this year’s Belgium Pavilion, Eva Wittocx as well as behind-the-scenes insight into the organisation of a national pavilion and its underlying context from Katerina Gregos, curator of the Danish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale and Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. Additionally, South African artist Mohau Modisakeng, who will represent South Africa in Venice will be exhibiting in the solo booth of Ron Mandos, Amsterdam.”

Art Brussels runs from 21st–23rd April, see the full programme here