The 37th edition of the Belgian art fair proves it still has bite as a destination for discovering for new artists
Portentous grey skies and a glacial drizzle did little to dampen spirits on the preview day of Art Brussels (25-28 April), where 148 galleries descended on Tours & Taxis for the 37th edition of the ‘discovery’ fair. With upwards of 250 art fairs jostling for a position on the calendar each year, Art Brussels managing director Anne Vierstraete says the competition is welcome. (Case in point: the Belgian fair aligns with Gallery Berlin Weekend, Artmonte-carlo, Art Vancouver and Art3f Luxembourg this year.)
Still, Art Brussels claims an above-average gallery retention rate 70 per cent compared to around 50 per cent for major art fairs (according to the 2019 USB Art Market Report). So what compels exhibitors to keep returning to the Belgian capital? ‘“Daring” is a very important word in our [the Belgian] identity,’ explains Vierstraete, ‘because we have to translate the kind of things our public expects to see, meaning the latest trends in art creation and the way the art market functions.’ And while the players may seem familiar (a common gripe of collectors), Art Brussels ensures it’s never complacent, welcoming 36 new galleries to the fold and giving carte blanche to nine emerging spaces disrupting convention in its new Invited section.