Berlin Booths: Blowing Up Brussels

Overpriced work AND overpriced fries? Give a man (or woman) a break. Art Brussels was definitely a mixed bag, but let me start from the beggining. 

Last month BAPs hit up New York City to bring you the latest updates from Berlin-based galleries showing at the Armory and Independent Art Fairs. Yet this flurry of activity merely marked the beginning of a rather busy spring fair season. Following the fair in Milan a few weeks ago, this weekend saw the opening of two art fairs: Art Brussels and Art Cologne. BAPs chose to swarm Brussels to follow the madness between Belgian waffles, fries and beer. Lots and lots of beer.

The Great Maze

Over 200 galleries from around the world flew into Brussels last week hoping to sell some art to Belgian’s wealthiest few. Located off of the Heysel Metro stop, the fair was in the shadow of the famed Atomium. I had arrived on the second day, so by that point many of the gallerists were recovering from the festivities from the night before. No lies: I saw one gallerist, adorned with his white exhibitor badge, run outside of the expo to vomit in between two cars. I suppose that some of those visiting Belgium failed to realize how well-known the country is for its strong beer. When I entered the fair, however, it became apparent that this was the least enticing environment for a hangover.

brussels1 Inside Art Brussels: Photo courtesy of Jared Shephard

Walking in the expo, I was greeted by a few beautiful, modelesque hosts adorned in 1960s era airplane stewardess uniforms. Why had the directors of Art Brussels chosen to greet gallerists who may have flown in from around the world with the very hell they had just experienced for 10 hours? I’ll never know. Through the gates with the fluorescent lights flooding the giant building, I was blinded by the harsh white glow.

I must admit: as far as fairs are concerned, Art Brussels was much more tasteful than the Armory. The large Brussels Expo was less of a cold, pallid shopping mall that the Piers were in New York. It was easier to enjoy the art with interior architecture dominated by large pieces of wood, along with a rustic floor that looked as old as the city. I followed my nose to the smell of French fries and waffles, knowing I would need my energy before I could enter the labyrinth of art booths.