It is the second world fair after Art Basel and one of the most universal. After two empty years, it’s a plunge into 7,000 years of human representations.
For Bernard de Grunne, Brussels tribal art specialist, “TEFAF remains the best generalist fair in the world, even if Covid and Poutine have postponed it this year at a time when many buyers and collectors elsewhere are already in summer posture.” . For some galleries, the fairs make up three quarters of their annual turnover, but he qualifies: “This market has no fixed rules: we sell one object for 800,000 euros in one year, three objects for 50,000 euros another.” For tribal art, the market is in Europe, secondarily in the USA, Asian or South American buyers can be counted on one hand.
“The first choice remains Art Basel (which just closed, editor’s note). It’s not necessarily the same artists, and the price levels here, at TEFAF, are more accessible.”
The Applicat-Prazan gallery in Paris essentially focused on the Second School of Paris, a large and eclectic movement of the mid-20th centurye Century (including Appel, Bazaine, Dubuffet, Hélion, Hartung) will celebrate their thirtieth anniversary in 2023. Franck Prazan judges that the first choice remains Art Basel (which has just closed, editor’s note). “These aren’t necessarily the same artists, and the price levels here are more accessible.” At TEFAF, the Karel Appel he proposed does not have the same register as the one he exhibited at Art Basel (“Big bird flies over the city”, 1950). “If we choose a Masson for Art Basel, he fits between the two periods of exile in Spain and the United States, between 1934 and 1944”, and that of TEFAF, “Delirium of Penthesilea” (1960) is later. I probably wouldn’t have shown Charchoune (“Good advice”1951) in Basel, or rather a purist or analytical painting.” Finally, one of the “Stones” from Magnelli to TEFAF puts it in one of the nineteen “Lyric Explosion” (1918) offered at Art Basel. One is sold for 480,000 euros, the other “several million”.
TEFAF, he concludes, is concerned with a natural basin in one of the world’s richest regions, encompassing the Netherlands and the larger Rhineland, while Art Basel is global.
Parisian in Brussels
Another Parisian but in Brussels, David Lévy, presents a two-page Simon Hantaï (1973), bright colors on the reverse, a 1970 study on the front, two-tone. A 1948 Picabia (“The magic of chance“) faces him. “Picabia traversed the path from musicalism to cubism, hyperrealism inspired by advertising and photography, before the 1940s surrealism. His Max Ernst (“sea and moon”, 1925) is part of the frottage and scratching experiments: “During a holiday in Pornic in Brittany, he draws on a sheet on the ground and sees the wood printed as a watermark.” He techniques it, making combs to reproduce the veins and adding a silver plate of tin to the canvas to reproduce the waves of the sea, illuminated by a moon as round as a photographic lens. David Lévy is not exhibiting at Art Basel but would like to be at Art Basel Paris in autumn 2022, which will succeed FIAC, in a post-Brexit context that puts Paris in a strong position.
Chinese in London and Londoners in the Beguinage
“As London’s historic galleries of Old Bond Street become fashion boutiques, Brussels undoubtedly has a card to play.”
Two philo-Asian Englishmen face each other in their driveway in Maastricht. The first, Michael Goodhuis, presents the extraordinary Wei Ligang, born in 1964, who he believes is transforming modern Chinese culture. “Renowned calligrapher, physicist, mathematician, one discovers in his work the traces of calligraphic signs that transform into a play of abstract forms, where he inserts color to form columns of quivering circles (‘Emerald Peacock B’, 2018, and ‘Red-Blue Peacock’, 2017). By resolving the famous Chinese lineage, which becomes flexible and free, he thus reaches a wider audience.” His other direction of research leads him to explore the classical patterns of Han textiles from the 2nd centurye century before our eraHan brocade”2018), which are reminiscent of the monumental color gradients of the Englishman Ian Davenport.
“After a few decades in London I got bored, I looked to New York, Paris, the prices put me off and here I am in Brussels.”
Gregg Baker, who runs the Saturday Square gallery behind Saint-Jean Baptiste au Béguinage, exhibits a graceful wooden figure of Jizō Bosatsu carrying a thin cane (Japan XIIIe Century). “After a few decades in London I got bored, I looked to New York, Paris, the prices put me off and here I am in Brussels where my wife and I met and got engaged. I know the Asian art scene. ” Before Brexit, he moved his holdings into a single space “where I can accommodate gallery and office, reducing my expenses by 75%, in the midst of a brotherhood of collectors. My clients are mainly based outside of the UK, my focus is increasingly in Europe. With London’s historic galleries on Old Bond Street becoming fashion boutiques, Brussels undoubtedly has a card to play.”
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