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Brussels Shines a Spotlight on the Value of Regional Art Fairs

Ms. Deak is showing new works by the Hungarian artists Attila Szucs, a prominent painter, and Zsofia Keresztes, an emerging sculptor.


Zsofia Keresztes’s “Comfort of Self-Cannibalism,” 2017.

Zsofia Keresztes and David Biro/Erika Deak Gallery

“The artists want to be in art fairs, and I wanted to introduce them to an international audience,” Ms. Deak said. “There isn’t a strong collector base in Hungary.”


A Tommy Simoens installation at Independent Brussels.

Isabelle Arthuis, Independent Brussels

Independent’s presence in Belgium reflects the strength of the country’s collector base. So does the 35th edition of the more mainstream Art Brussels contemporary fair, which had a preview on Thursday at the Tour & Taxis customs warehouse, as well as the numerous galleries and foundations holding shows in Brussels this week.


Art Brussels at the Tour & Taxis custom warehouse.

David Plas/Art Brussels

Major local collectors such as Mimi Dusselier, Bruno van Lierde and Walter Vanhaerents were spotted at Independent, as were the Russian collector Maria Baibakova and Axel Haubrok from Berlin.

Yet, as is the case at most contemporary art fairs in these uncertain times, buyers at Independent remain highly selective. Collectors balked, for example, at the asking price of 26,000 euros, or $28,000, for Mr. Szucs’s photography-inspired painting “Red Garden” — well above the artist’s current auction high of $23,670.

The New York and Brussels gallery Clearing, which also opened a 5,400 square-foot space in the Belgian capital this week, did sell a colorful 2017 pastel abstract, “Untitled,” by the Los Angeles-based artist Aaron Garber-Maikovska, for $25,000. The Approach gallery in London presented a strikingly diverse and thought-provoking group of works by the Dutch conceptual artist Germaine Kruip, who lives in Brussels. These included “Kannadi,” a 2017 relief sculpture incorporating geometric metal mirrors made for religious rituals in southern India, which found a buyer at €40,000.


Aaron Garber-Maikovska’s “Untitled,” 2017.

Aaron Garber-Maikovska and Clearing.

“I’m not a big fan of fairs,” said Olivier Gevart, a Belgian collector who runs Été 78, a nonprofit exhibition space in the capital, at the Art Brussels opening. “They’re not really a place where you can discuss art. But you can still make discoveries.”

Mr. Gevart said he prefers visiting a few of Europe’s smaller regional fairs and its galleries, and Art Brussels is on his list….

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