Brafa 2023: Towards Art Nouveau

With 130 galleries, an amplified international presence and an emphasis on Art Nouveau, this 68ᵉ edition of Brafa is well refined.

After the 2022 edition moved to June, Brafa returns to its historic winter date. It made its mark by firmly establishing itself in Heyselwith a very successful arrangement which is highly appreciated by visitors, but also by international gallery owners.

In addition, its international openness is growing, because 65% of galleries are foreign. It is also growing by welcoming, this year, thirteen new galleries.

Among these newcomers, we note the presence of five French gallery owners, incl Pascal cook, specializing in French designs from 1951 and 1961, which published luxury catalogs (“Robert Mathieu”, published by SilvanaEditorial). By his own admission, Pascal Cuisinier already believed that this first time would be followed by many others.

Among the new arrivals, we note the presence of five French gallery owners, including Pascal Cuisinier.

In the same vein, we can also quote New Hope Gallery, a Belgian who also devoted himself to furniture from the second half of the 20th centurye century, but envisioned by American and Danish designers, such as Paul Evans or Poul Kjærholm.

Art Nouveau Memorial

The year 2023 marks the anniversary of Art Nouveau. Therefore, Brafa highlighted this movement, in line with the initiatives taken by the Brussels Capital Region. The King Baldwin Foundation also participated in this edition, as well as the excellent European gallery dedicated to this period.

At Amsterdammer Dr. Lennart Booijthe biggest names are represented, especially the Dutch Theo Wolvecamp and Jan Van Heel. We can especially see the unique pieces or editions of the very small French series Emile Gallé and René Lalique. Highly imaginative and colorfully elegant, the names of their creations are poetic: “blown crocus vase”, “pinecone goblet”.

These works, according to the gallery expert, “are very popular with Indian, Chinese or Japanese buyers, as they are often inspired by orientalists”. Lennart Booij himself is a gallery that is quite unique. Art historian and curator at the Stedelijk Museum, he also produced two television programs, and founded the political movement, Niet Nix.

This vase was designed in 1902 by Koloman Moser, one of the most famous Viennese artists, who was commissioned by the Bohemian glass masterpiece Johann Loetz Witwe. Its size, organic blown prints and freeform, and iridescent pattern and color works make it a rarity with museum value.
©Kolhammer-Preisinger ART GmbH

As for the Viennese gallery Florian Kolhammer, specialized in the Jugendstil and Art Nouveau movements, it offers a set of molded and blown glass vases, with so-called “freeform” patterns. “The colors, sometimes colorful, sometimes mottled”, he explained Flore Friden Luxembourg, “obtained by the addition of metal salts before final firing”. Elegant drops, like constellation shapes, evoke a canvas Gustav Klimt or a Fernand Khnopff.

The most expensive work (76,000 euros), a large format vase, symbolizes the orders made by great artists like Moser columnfor glassware from bohemian Johan Loetz Witwe. Josef Hoffmann’s later black and white vase (1911) provides a striking contrast to the colored pieces, perhaps already heralding the future of German Expressionism. The Art Nouveau movement with its sparkling charm, evocative of the sparkling sound of Mahler’s music, saw its golden age (1890-1912) end with the First World War, when many of these artists had to go into exile, particularly in the United States.

Architectural agency

A far cry from Art Nouveau, but offering similar links to architecture, 20th century sculpture is beautifully represented by London galleries Osborne Samuel, with Lynn Chadwick, who first became an architect.

Among these newcomers, we note the presence of five French gallery owners, including Pascal Cuisinier
© Osborne Samuel Gallery

Moving away from architecture, he started by making mobile phones (one of which, Fisheater, adorns the Tate Modern in London). “Lynn Chadwick, architect, purchased thanks to the International Sculpture Prize, won at the 28ᵉ Venice Biennale in 1956, an old house in Gloucestershire, completely hollowed out, removed all ornamentation, and turned into the great white volume in which he lives and works”, explains Tania Sutton, gallery co-director.

The statues of these bodily architects, who first composed the totem pieces, of plaster-coated iron, or of bronze, later proliferated in a rare and canonical genre, namely, those of a couple, in a seated and standing position. , who walked, climbed the stairs, and looked in metal, mineral, mute, eternal conversation.

This silhouette suggests a violence no stranger to Giacometti, but also a geometric way of indulging in the conversational art (with a dash of humor, as the crossed faces of the duo Stairs (1991) are interpreted in polished bronze, the only warm and gold tones of the black set). ).

haughty face

Finally, we also mention Milan Dalton–Somaré gallery, which presents a drag exhibition entitled IKONS, accompanied by a catalog of stunning high-contrast photographs. IKONS combines African Art and Cubism paintings by Russian painter, who became Parisian Serge Féra (pseudonym of Sergei Nikolaïevich Yastrebzov) good friend of Guillaume Apollinaire.

These African heads, whose creators had an architectural vision of the human figure, do share a notable connection with Cubism and the early 20th century, particularly Modigliani’s art, which is found in the finesse and geometry of features. .

Punu masks from Gabon, Late 19th century, early 20th century. Wood, pigment, kaolin. Item collected in the late 1940s by Marcel Bessy, a French magistrate in Gabon and Congo from 1947 to 1958, private collection in Paris. It is the ambiguity of the features that inspires so much admiration for these masks (Cfr. Brafa 2020). Kaolin restores skin softness. The headdress is richly chiselled.
© saskia vanderstichele

So, the hypnotizing Punu mask from Gabon (end 19e-early XXe) illustrates the delicacy of the feature, where the red mouth contrasts with the seraphic white color of the kaolin. “Don’t be mistaken about that, though,” said Leonardo Vigorelli, who manages the gallery. “These masks are objects of mind and body control, especially women. The wearer of the mask hides his gaze behind the eyes of the mask, reduced to two slits.

The scarifications, always nine in number, arranged in a diamond shape, and a haughty pouty mouth, mark the domineering and inquisitive character which the wearer of the mask adorns himself with.

Portrait of a late 19th century Baule maske (Ivory Coast), which passed by the historic Belgian merchant Pierre Dartevelle, who recently died, was selected as the most beautiful part of this section by Brafa’s “examination” committee, which is responsible for evaluating its quality. It is not without reason that the mention of this difference illuminates the views of Leonardo Vigorelli and his son Gerolamo.

From January 29 to February 5

The Brussels-Heysel Fair

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