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Special Edition: Art Brussels
by ArtSlant Team



Kati Heck, Entführung der Mutter mit Hase, oil, charcoal and toilet paper on canvas, courtesy Tim Van Laere Gallery.

Eating Mussels in Brussels Sometimes Doing Something Poetic Can Become Touristy and Sometimes Doing Something Touristy Can Become Poetic, by Andrea Alessi

Francis Alÿs once did a walk from the Museum of Science and Industry to the Nordic Museum in Stockholm, mapping the journey with the unraveling thread of his blue sweater. The Belgian native is known for his “walks”, performative perambulations numbering too many to list here. They link sites separated by space and time; they chart national and political histories onto landscape; they open onto questions of surveillance and urban existence; and perhaps most importantly, they playfully highlight the subjective journey of the individual in time and geography.

Miriam Böhm, Interlude IV, 2012, Chromogenic color print, 31 x 35 inches, courtesy Ratio 3.

If I’d been feeling cleverer and less exhausted from standing for an entire train journey from Rotterdam to Brussels, I might have planned an Alÿs-style walk on a recent trip to the EU capital. As in the artist’s Stockholm walk – and in the paths of so many visitors – one could map Brussels within and between its museums. Wander through the palatial Royal Museums of Art, stroll in a southwesterly direction to the modernist industrial building of Wiels, Brussels’s best-known contemporary art center, all the while charting the route with a trail of powdered sugar blown from a street vendor’s waffle. Or perhaps you could let loose one French and one Flemish speaker into the city. One carries a cone of chips, the other a bottle of mayo. When they meet, they must speak to each other in English.

Eddie Martinez, Dream Scape, 2012, oil and spray paint on canvas, © Eddie Martinez, courtesy Sorry We're Closed.

I pose these truly terrible (or at the very least corny) ideas only to bring up the notion of adding further poetic – if bad poetry – meaning to what is essentially the under-informed wandering of a tourist. You could make yourself feel more singular of purpose – as you follow the throngs of people from the Grote Markt (Grand Place), past numerous chocolate and waffle shops (roll your eyes at me, but I’ve been there and I’m not making this up), to the Mannekin Pis (the oddly famous peeing boy fountain) – if you envisioned your movements as art. Stopping to indulge in overpriced mussels and chips along the way might not be the best financial decision, but it is a tasty one. And one in which another famous Belgian artist, Marcel Broodthaers, would have approved. In addition to le/la moule’s wordplay, in which mussels sculpt themselves, the artist exploited the Belgian gastronomic stereotype, equating culture with cuisine. Food can be poetic, touristy, and delicious. Triumph of the Mussels indeed.

Mike Kelley, Buttered Colored Vision of the Land O’ Lakes Girl, Peche Island, piezo pigment paint on rag paper, framed, edition of 5, © Mike Kelley, courtesy Patrick Painter, Los Angeles.

Whether the journey is your destination or you’re just here for Art Brussels, prepare to do some legwork in Brussels...
...Click here for more on Andrea's wanderings through Brussels...

See you in Brussels!

–the ArtSlant Team

FAIR WATCH - Davis Rhodes

Davis Rhodes, Installation view; Courtesy of the artist and Team Gallery.

Andrea Alessi recently spoke with Davis Rhodes, who is among the artists presented in a solo show format at Art Brussels, with Office Baroque Gallery. Read more about Rhodes latest work in this week's Rackroom interview:

DR:...The point is just what it does. Nothing inside the pieces is meaningful. It’s about staging an unstable presence – of the works and of the viewer.

AA: So, for you, the encounter is paramount?

DR: Yes, the encounter, and the reality of the work...

FAIR WATCH - Ellen Harvey

Ellen Harvey, Observations Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, 49 framed watercolors, © Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Dresden/Berlin.

Ellen Harvey's work mines and reuses romantic, clichéd notions of art: the picturesque, the decorative, kitsch. At Art Brussels, Ellen Harvey will be showing a collection of paintings of the Citadelpark in Gent, painted according to the rules of the picturesque established in the 18th century, with Galerie Gebr. Lehmann. She will also showing new work and her Black Paintings after George Petrie with Meessen de Clercq. For more on Ellen Harvey's work, read Yván Rosa's review of her NY Beautification Project here.

TALK OF THE TOWN - Looking East: Picks for Art Brussels

by Nicole Rodriguez

Art fairs — the feeding frenzy of the art world. Many of us visit them to take in what we haven’t seen, or haven’t seen enough of, at our local galleries and museums. We go to stare and be stared at, but mostly to find out who is “stare-worthy”. Fairs remind us that we are in the business known as art and that the booths next to us are curiously keeping tabs on our traffic flow and sales (we know you’re peeking!).

For Art Brussels 2012, the Belgian fair is turning 30 and with this milestone comes a change in direction. Always a forward thinker — paying particularly close-attention to emerging contemporary artists and their youthful gallery counterparts — this year Art Brussels will up their innovative profile that much more by putting the young galleries in the foreground as the initial welcome to visitors and as the official tone-setter of the fair. With more than 2,000 emerging and established artists gathering at the Place de Belgique to face an ever-expanding international market of collectors, critics and enthusiasts, there is no better place to do so. Amongst the craziness of the coat-drop, the catalog pick-up and the champagne-bar, Nicole Rodriguez scopes out the Brussels-bound Berlin gallery scene and makes her picks for the names and works that prick her ear.

Aleksandra Domanović, Installation view, From yu to me, 2012, Kunsthalle Basel, Paper-stacks (2009 - present), Courtesy of Tanya Leighton.

Tanya Leighton and Soy Capitán are two of the curatorial-committee-selected “First Call” galleries that greet you on the way in. Established in 2008, Tanya Leighton is a gallery invested in double takes. With a program dedicated to the re-examination of historical frameworks and marginalized figures, Aleksandra Domanović is nestled perfectly into the repertoire and an impressive inclusion in the booth. Born in the former Yugoslavia (present-day Slovenia), Domanović’s works focuses primarily on the re-contextualization of online content and images. In Paper-stacks (2009-present) the artist accrues images of scenes of war from the former autocratic nation on A3 and A4 paper that bleed into the margins comprising — only in their accumulation of stacks on the floor, with persistent repetition — a full picture of historic symbology that unveils the past and examines its place within the nation’s present. Tanya Leighton will also show works by Dan Rees and Oliver Laric.

For more of Nicole's Berlin-based picks for Art Brussels, click here.

Thank you to Art Brussels and all of the galleries, organizations, institutions, curators and artists who bring us this Brussels extravaganza.

For more information on our Special Edition packages featuring ArtSlant Insiders and Watchlist for galleries, artists and art services, please contact

Posted by ArtSlant Team on 4/23/12

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