In Brafa, a nice mix of cultures

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For its friendly atmosphere and its ever more specialized and diversified selection, the Brussels lounge, which pays homage to Christo, is enthusiastic for its audience.

Wednesday, for the VIP preview, everyone was waiting for Christo, the star artist of the 63rd edition of the Brafa, the Brussels show which has become the first appointment of the year in the calendar of the market. art. Under the large industrial hall Tour & Taxis, on a site in perpetual construction site in the bottom of the city, throne one of its mythical plays, Three Store Fronts, made from 1963 to 1966, in his studio in Manhattan. 14 meters long, the monumental work could only be installed elsewhere in the fair's restaurant, following the same layout as at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in 1966.

But big disappointment, Christo did not come. Three weeks before the opening, he said he could not be there. In contrast to Julio Le Parc, the Argentine king of kinetic art (88 years) who had lent himself to the game of photos last year in front of his red and blue mobiles, Christo, the king of packaging (83 years old), could not publicly express his joy to associate his name with this event. Recently, to conquer new audiences, the organizers of Brafa wanted to give more space to modern and contemporary by offering artists of the twentieth century - more than confirmed given their age! - to follow them.

In an atmosphere of real conviviality that stands out with that of our French salons, the public comes precisely for this eclecticism

"Christo is no longer very young," replied Harold t'Kint de Roodenbeke, the director of Brafa, who is finishing his second term. But in fact, on the eve of the vernissage, on January 23rd, there was a more important event for the artist in London: the approval by the Westminster Council of his Mastaba project on the lake in the heart of Hyde Park, facing the Serpentine Gallery (he will see the light next June), before building his giant trapeze composed of some 410,000 barrels of oil that will remain, after its installation, in the desert of Abu Dhabi. The information was confirmed by his gallerist Guy Pieters, who devotes a masterful one-man show to him on the show, showing his big drawings of his old projects (375.000 to 425.000 euros) and his packaged objects of the first years (95.000 euros the bouquet of flowers!).

On several stands, Christo is honored (450,000 euros, his drawings of places "packed" at Tornabuoni) as other contemporaries who marry with older. It is precisely this journey through the ages of the history of art, to archeology and the first arts, which is the attraction of this fair. In an atmosphere of real conviviality that stands in stark contrast to that of our French salons, the public comes precisely for this eclecticism: steadily increasing, attendance has exceeded 61,000 visitors in 2017. For this 2018 edition, the Brafa brings together 133 galleries and merchants some fifteen countries, mainly European. "We had nearly 80 names on the waiting list, it is the proof of the attractiveness of this show which is gaining reputation from year to year," confirmed before you opened Harold t'Kint Roodenbeke. The latter has found a last minute place for Christian Deydier, a specialist in Chinese art whose project for a new show Sublime is much talked about in the alleys of Brafa. There are thirteen new major brands including the Chastel-Marshal galleries, the Presidency, Ratton (beautiful confrontation of the first art with paintings of Dubuffet very noticed but for sale!) Or Gladstone (between 145,000 and 155,000 euros the unique editions of very nice quality of Ugo Rondinone).

"This is my best edition in nine years that I'm doing this show"

Xavier Eckhout

Belgium is honored, as it should be, with Magritte, The Oracle, painted in 1931, at Boon Gallery. Another very noticed piece: Deer hunting by Diane and her nymphs, collective work of Peter Paul Rubens, unearthed during the summer 2015 in Paris at an auction by Klaas Muller from Brussels. All came to admire this great canvas whose announced price of several million euros remains confidential. In archeology, the Genevan gallery Phoenix (which has just announced its participation in Sublime) offers a nugget that has been released for a few months from a private American collection. It is a Roman head from the Augustus period (10-20 BC) carrying the proposed Hunt pedigree to 3.5 million euros. In modern art, the Fleury gallery has released a large accumulation of Arman saxophones (1983) from a private collection (350,000 euros).

Business started slowly the first night, where the 1,800 guests invited to the grand dinner set in the aisles are more likely to reunite with friends than firm and permanent purchases. But since then, there have been several sales, including the Brussels Didier Claes, who would have given up all of his eleven masks ceremonial ceremonies Yaka wood and raffia (southwestern Democratic Republic of Congo, on the border of the Angola) came out of the same collection and hung on the wall in a very spectacular presentation (between 12,000 and 18,000 euros each).

"This is my best edition in nine years that I make this show, observes the Parisian Xavier Eckhout, who announced his participation in Sublime. I sold 14 pieces out of 24 in three days, including the patinated cast plaster of Rembrandt Bugatti, a male puma modeled in 1911 and published in 26 copies from 1912. "The latter was bought in a sale in Tours in 1989 and has since remained in the same French collection. The fact that the artist drew it in the Antwerp zoo probably gave him this immediate success in Belgium!

Until 4 February, Tour Taxis, Avenue du Port 86 C / B1000 Brussels,

Source: ©  In Brafa, a nice mix of cultures

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