BRAFA galleries open for in-person viewings to replace 66th edition of the stalwart Brussels art fair
BRUSSELS.- There is no denying that the invitation the international art fair BRAFA’s Board committee extended at the end of October to participate in ‘BRAFA in the Galleries’, its alternative ‘fair’, was met with much interest. A total of 126 galleries conﬁrmed their participation in the subsequent weeks. As such, 126 exhibitions will be organized in 13 countries and 37 cities, for the most part in their dedicated gallery spaces.
The premise of the event is to invite the galleries that had conﬁrmed for BRAFA 2021 to develop exhibitions in their own locations of the works that they had selected for the fair. They can then invite their customers, in strict compliance with the current Covid-19 measures to visit in person. Our hope is that this will re-establish the pleasure of direct contact between dealers, collectors and works of art, at the end of a long period during which we were deprived of many of these precious and irreplaceable exchanges. The last few months have indeed been punctuated by cancellations, postponements or online versions of countless events. Today the art market feels a tremendous need to gradually reconnect with some measure of regained freedom.
An initiative that revolves around gallery exhibitions
Unlike other art fair initiatives relying solely on virtual events and communication, ’BRAFA in the Galleries’ is developed around the galleries, at the galleries. The BRAFA website has been adapted for this period to promote and communicate this new activity.
There will be 126 exhibitions in total hosted by the participating galleries, eleven of which will be joining BRAFA’s ranks for the ﬁrst time, namely the galleries Artimo Fine Arts (Brussels), Arts et Autographes (Paris), Dr. Lennart Booij Fine Arts & Rare Items (Amsterdam), Hadjer (Paris), Nao Masaki (Nagoya), Jordi Pascual (Barcelona), São Roque – Antiguidades e Galerie de Arte (Lisbon), Tenzing Asian Art (San Francisco), Van der Meij Fine Arts (Amsterdam), Maurice Verbaet (Knokke), and Waddington Custot (London).
Variations on the same theme
All the exhibitions will open for the same dates and times, including a preview on Wednesday 27 January 2021 from 2 pm until 9 pm, after which they will remain open from Thursday 28 January through to Sunday 31 January from 11 am until 6 pm, with the exception of the eleven galleries in Knokke-Heist that have chosen dates and opening times adapted to the speciﬁcities of this seaside resort (Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January 2021 and Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February 2021, from 11 am until 6 pm).
In the vast majority of all cases, the exhibitions will take place in the participants’ respective galleries, regardless of whether they manage one or several galleries. In some cases, a diﬀerent approach was taken.
Some dealers have chosen to mount joint exhibitions with a colleague or colleagues. This is the case in Knokke-Heist where Véronique Bamps will exhibit at Berko Fine Paintings; in Brussels where Jean Lemaire and Francis Janssens van der Maelen will exhibit at Costermans & Pelgrims de Bigard, Dr. Lennart Booij Fine Arts & Rare Items at Huberty & Breyne, and the members of the CLAM (Chambre Professionnelle belge de la Librairie Ancienne et moderne, the Belgian Antiquarian Booksellers Association) at the Claude Van Loock and Le Tout Venant galleries. Adrian Schlag, De Jonckheere and Whitford Fine Art, meanwhile, haven selected special locations in Brussels, just like the Milan-based Repetto Gallery. In addition to receiving art aﬁcionados in their own galleries, Didier Claes, Xavier Eeckhout, Céline and Fabien Mathivet, Gabriela and Mathieu Sismann, and Benjamin Steinitz will be the guests of Francis Maere Fine Arts (Ghent) in the margin of a joint exhibition that will run until 28 February. Finally, Univers du Bronze will host an exhibition in their Paris gallery in addition to exhibiting work at a temporary address in Brussels.
The website as a back-up
The revamped BRAFA website, which contains all the information visitors need, serves as a support platform for this initiative. Each participant will have their own personal page, on which they can show up to nine artworks (three at the time of writing in addition to another six works which will be posted online on 27 January 2021) with complete descriptions, contact details, the address(es) of the exhibition as well as a map(s) and a personal and original video that was especially developed for the occasion by those gallery owners who were interested in adding this feature. Visitors can download PDF maps for the main cities where a large number of the galleries are concentrated (Brussels, Paris, London, Geneva, Antwerp, Knokke…) to ensure that they can visit them all. Finally, the four conferences that were scheduled for Thursday 28, Friday 29, Saturday 30 and 31 January 2021 at 6 pm will be live streamed on the website.
Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke, BRAFA’s President said: “These past few months were a potent reminder of how important direct and personal contact is in our relations. Between a collector and a work of art, between a buyer and a dealer. Our trade is profoundly human because it is founded on emotion ﬁrst and foremost. We hope that this initiative can re- establish this link, in an environment and under conditions that respect the measures in force in the various countries. More than anything else, ‘BRAFA in the Galleries’ was created in support of our galleries. We are pleased to note that so many of them share our hope of a return to better times.”