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The constantly-evolving BRAFA Art Fair

Since its creation in 1956, the Brussels-based BRAFA Art Fair has continually sought to improve itself. It has become increasingly international over the years, and now welcomes more than 132 exhibitors from 14 countries. It has also gradually opened up to other specialities, which has defined its DNA: eclecticism. The mix of styles and eras on offer at the Fair reflects what can be found in collectors’ homes nowadays: an African statue, an eighteenthcentury desk, a contemporary painting, a designer lamp... The BRAFA Art Fair offers an overview of the best on the market.

Art lovers will be gathering in Brussels in January 2024 for the 69th edition of BRAFA

BRAFA 2024 will be held from Sunday, January 28th to Sunday, February 4th in Halls 3 & 4 of Brussels Expo. The new venue is proving very popular with the public, especially as it offers the advantage of easier access. Last year, BRAFA attracted 65,000 visitors.

This elegant fair prides itself on being one of the highest-quality international fairs in Europe. Its taste for excellence is evident already from the selection of exhibitors. Each year, two days are devoted to expert appraisals prior to the opening of the Fair. More than 80 international experts specialising in different periods and fields carry out meticulous checks on the authenticity, quality and state of conservation of the works on display.

20 new exhibitors will be completing the range of specialities

For the first time in 2024, in the category of Old Master Art, BRAFA will be welcoming the prestigious Spanish gallery Nicolás Cortés Gallery, which will be exhibiting Old Master paintings and art from Latin America, including a work entitled Adoration of the Cross by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spain, Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux, France).

Secher Fine Art & Design, a Danish gallery specialising in modern art with a focus on the CoBrA movement will be presenting among others a patinated bronze sculpture, L’oiseau Cobra, 1950 by Karel Appel (Amsterdam 1921-2006 Zurich).

A new London gallery will also be joining the ranks of BRAFA: Richard Saltoun Gallery, which will be the twelfth BRAFA 2024 exhibitor from the UK. The gallery, which specialises in modern and post-war art, will present artworks by women artists who are internationally renowned for their work on textiles: Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland 1930-2017, Olga de Amaral (Colombia, 1932), Jagoda Buić (Croatia, 1930-2022), Ewa Pachucka (Poland, 1936-2020) and Barbara Levittoux-Świderska (Poland, 1933-2019).

The Paul Delvaux Foundation: BRAFA 2024’s guest of honour

For many years now, BRAFA has been honouring major Belgian cultural institutions and internationally renowned artists. In 2024, the Paul Delvaux Foundation will be BRAFA’s guest of honour, an opportunity to pay tribute to the great Belgian painter, Paul Delvaux, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his death. 2024 also marks the 100th anniversary of the first Surrealist manifesto published by the French writer and poet André Breton.

By means of a specific exhibition, the Paul Delvaux Foundation will introduce visitors to the highly personal, Surrealist world of Paul Delvaux, whose works, like waking dreams, feature mysterious figures, with women playing a central role, as well as the more unexpected figures of skeletons in ancient architectural settings or railway stations, which particularly fascinated the artist.

3 QUESTIONS FOR DIDIER CLAES, Vice-Chairman of BRAFA and Director of Claes Gallery in Brussels

Do fairs still have the same appeal for galleries?

There has been a certain fashion for fairs, but nowadays that model is being somewhat called into question, especially since COVID. There is a sense that the marathon of fairs is over: galleries are doing less of them because they are being more selective. I think that each exhibitor makes a choice based on their geographical location, their field, their clientele and so on. BRAFA 2024 has been fully booked since August, which means that exhibitors are choosing us, and with last year’s success in terms of visitors, it’s fair to say that BRAFA is a key event for everyone involved in the art market.

How do market trends emerge, and by what means?

Every generation has its own movement. With each movement, there is creation and therefore public interest. One mistake we must not make is to denigrate each new trend. That’s often what people do. We live in a world of constant change, so we have to accept that there will always be new trends and not succumb to conservatism or even protectionism. In the 80s, Basquiat was considered a street artist. Nowadays, he is one of the most important post-war artists in the world. That’s why you always have to reevaluate yourself, especially as the committee of a fair.

Can art still be considered a safe investment these days?

I wouldn’t use the term safe investment, but rather diversification, because when you talk about safe investments, you get into a kind of speculation. I have always struggled to see art as speculation. My personal experience tells me that it is a mistake to see art in this way. It is above all a matter of passion and emotion. That said, when the purchase of art is well supported and intelligently constructed, like at BRAFA, art can perhaps indeed become a form of safe investment.

Didier Claes, Vice-Chairman of BRAFA and Director of Claes Gallery in Brussels


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