One of the oldest contemporary art fairs took place in Brussels at the end of April. The 39th edition of Art Brussels hosted 152 galleries from 32 countries this year. It emphasized works focused mainly on technology and AI, but didn't shy away from spirituality and racial, gender or identity themes. Several works also took on the theme of movement and sport. Which were they?
Belonging to Europe's most famous art fairs, Art Brussels is said to be, from the curator standpoint, more attractive than ever this year. It took place from 20-23 April and featured works of over 800 artists divided into three sections: Prime, Discovery, Rediscovery and a separate sub-section Solo. Prime focused on the works of some of our time's most interesting and influential artists. The Discovery section brought the latest emerging talents of contemporary art. On the other hand, Rediscovery helped turn the spotlight back to the forgotten or underrated names of the 20th century. The selection of individual SOLO presentations has then aroused interest among local and international art collectors. Finally, the fair's move to the Brussels Expo Exhibition Centre also proved to be pleasant and refreshing.
MotoGP Lock Room and Louka Anargynos
The Lock Room exhibition was brought to Art Brussels by SEPTIEME Gallery from Paris. The author of the exhibition is sculptor Louka Anargynos, whose work deals mainly with human vulnerability, identity and intimacy. This exhibition, for which he created a motoGP locker room covering an area of 25 m2, is no different. An abandoned locker room contains motorcyclist overalls hanging on hooks and waiting for the racers. However, these are in fact ceramic sculptures representing a fragile protection questioning masculinity. Instead of a logo and sponsors, the overalls bear writings such as fag, pédale or sissy, which are derogatory terms for homosexuals in French slang. This commonly used insults stand face to face with the heteronormative model and point to endangered masculinity. The author examines, above all, the risk and danger to the body, whether through sport or lifestyle.
Vibing with artist Jean Jullien
Among others, the Belgian Alice Gallery introduced the contemporary fine artist, graphic artist and illustrator Jean Jullien, who is well known especially for his playful stylization and minimalist approach emphasizing mainly the comicality of the portrayed situations. However, the fair hosted his new canvases capturing surfers.
Brian Lotti's basketball games
The same gallery also presented artist Brian Lotti and his canvases capturing a street basketball game. Sport themes are a frequent inspiration for this American artist, whose main motif for his oil paintings saturated with vivid colors is the spontaneity of the event, whether it's a tennis tournament, jumping into a pool or merely sitting around with a group of friends in a café garden.
Demonic boxers by Sibylle Ruppert
German artist Sibylle Ruppert displayed her radical canvases imbued with brutal aesthetics somewhere between dark surrealism, eroticism and intimate humor, through which she processes her own traumas. Among the work appeared also the painting Boxer from 1978, where one party got hit in the face and we can witness a masterfully captured movement gradually shaping and twisting the face under the force of the boxer's strike.
Photographs and text by Agnes Geoffray
The photograph by Agnes Geoffray takes on the boxing atmosphere, too, but from a slightly different perspective; she examines the relationship between image and text. Referring to her work as vernacular photography, she takes old telegram snippets and aptly arranges them in black-and-white photographs. At Art Brussels you could see, for example, a vintage photo of a man assuming a boxing position complemented by the words Rough Proof.
Flaviu Cacoveanu's installation
Flaviu Cavoveanu represented by the French gallery Parliament exhibited Chess for Snails. Using stereotyped relationships to things, he puts across a different view on ordinary reality. His work forces the viewer to reflect on their standard approach to life. He alludes to the global problems of humanity of both ideological and economic nature through the display of things of common daily use.
The Czech Republic, too, had its representative at the iconic fair: Vojtěch Kovařík. This man's work often draws his inspiration from boxing. In Brussels, however, he exhibited his painting of Despoina, presented by the Brazilian gallery Mendes Wood DM. Kovařík's trademark are his portraits of even antic heroes where he blurs the lines between traditional gender roles and challenges established norms.