This 35th annual incarnation of Art Brussels was taglined ‘From Discovery to Rediscovery’. Here is a roundup of some of the rising talent that you may have missed
By Emily Spicer for Studio International - 2 May 2017
Art Brussels is one of the best art fairs in Europe for collectors seeking to take a punt on emerging talent. It prides itself, in fact, on being a discovery fair, with a whole section dedicated to galleries putting forward fresh finds. Housed in the airy Tour & Taxis building, a dignified 19th-century brick warehouse with a roof of green steel girders and terracotta tiles, this fair has been elegantly composed, to lessen the feeling that you are walking through an art superstore.
Artist Manuel Mathieu, who was born in Haiti in 1986, was exhibited outside of the Discoveries section of the fair, but he is every bit the young, rising star. A recent graduate of Goldsmith’s (2016), he has already had a solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London after winning the fig-2 open call. Although painting is not his only outlet, it has been his main focus this past year, and his use of colour is particularly effective.
Greens, mauves and flesh tones hint at decay and anthropomorphised figures with truncated limbs speak of violent undercurrents. While Mathieu’s paintings are not obviously routed in a particular time or place, his childhood in Haiti has been a source of inspiration. His biography cites the fact that he was born in the year of the uprising that marked the end of the Duvalier era, a regime coloured by murder and exile. When I spoke to him, he was navigating the interested crowds on crutches. I asked him what happened to his leg and he told me, all smiles, that he was hit by a car: “I won’t tell you any more, because you’ll think I’m unlucky guy to be around.” He might be unlucky with moving vehicles, but he is set to do well in his career.