There was a palpable buzz at this year's Art Brussels, which hosted its 38th edition after a two-year break following the pandemic, with a strong presence of local and international collectors.
A defining feature was the presence of many SOLO booths platforming an array of emerging artists. We've selected some exciting names to watch.
Bendt Eyckermans, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde
Amongst local talent at the fair was star painter Bendt Eyckermans, whose approach to light and colour offers a unique sculptural depth.
Eyckermans, who graduated from his MFA at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2016, has already had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and institutions including Carlos/Ishikawa, London (2019) and S.M.A.C.K., Ghent (2018); and was recently included in Andrew Kreps Gallery's group exhibition Fifteen Painters (2021).
Having studied the technique of the Old Masters as well as Belgian masters including James Ensor and Jean Brusselmans, Eyckermans reinterprets urban vernacular and youth culture of the 21st century.
As the artist has said, 'You could say that my body of work is a document of the zeitgeist that my generation carries. But to give you a more correct formulation: painting is me documenting myself and my existence in time on this earth.'
Dittmar Viane, Everyday Gallery
Dittmar Viane is another young Belgian painter (b. 1998) who is reinventing classical painting conventions.
The attention to detail in this oil on panel painting is exquisite, with each blade of grass beautifully rendered along with the powdered surface of the butterfly's wings, whose primary colours and hovering body add a surrealistic element to the painting.
Having graduated from KASK Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent with a Master in Illustration, the artist blends interests in medieval history, nature, and music into scenes that evoke loneliness, silence, and absurdity.
The artist has just opened his first ever solo exhibition at Everyday Gallery in Antwerp, running until 5 June 2022.
Bent Van Looy, Super Dakota
Line and form are guided by colour as the primary tool in Antwerp-based musician and artist Bent Van Looy's practice.
At his 2020 exhibition at Super Dakota, a selection of oil on canvas paintings revealed fluid colours coming together in surrealistic scenes, while the artist's SOLO booth at Art Brussels featured delicate watercolour paintings.
After graduating from the painting department of Sint-Lucas in Ghent, Van Looy's band Das Pop started to take off, with the artist—who was also the drummer for Soulwax for a period—only returning to the medium recently, after a two-decade-long hiatus.
These latest paintings have a romantic air, with scenes including a neighbourhood bathed in moonlight as well as intimate domestic settings.
Oscar Giaconia, Monitor
Oscar Giaconia's paintings absorb influences, ideas, and techniques to the point that their surfaces seem it be in the midst of transformation, shifting between digital and natural worlds.
They are truly paintings that have to be seen in person, to admire their detail. Grounded in extraordinary skill, Giaconia's paintings often incorporate organic materials, including animal composts and chrysalis pouches, alongside more synthetic materials such as silicone, nylon, and neoprene rubber.
Willa Wasserman, François Ghebaly
With an upcoming exhibition at François Ghebaly, Willa Wasserman is one to watch.
The artist graduated from the University of California in Los Angeles in 2019 with a Master of Fine Arts, and has since experimented with distorting the traditions of painting.
Drawing on her background in metalworking, Wasserman's recent works are rendered on surfaces such as brass. Some of these use a metalpoint technique, which was developed in the Renaissance by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, using a piece of metal with a sharp point to inscribe fine lines in the surface of the image.
Wasserman uses brass wool, contributing to the hazy, dreamlike appearance of her images.
Anthony Cudahy, Semiose
Paris-based Semiose presented a sold-out booth of large, atmospheric paintings by American painter Anthony Cudahy.
The artist, who completed his MFA at Hunter College in New York in 2020, has a vast archive of images including of his partner, film stills, as well as queer iconography, from which he renders his vivid portrayals.
At Art Brussels, a selection of canvases included this uniquely cropped painting of Derek Jarman wearing a bright yellow hat in Jarman in Dungeness (2022), as well as a portrait of artist Jenna Gribbon lying on a sofa and pointing towards a book on Caspar David Friedrich lying on the floor.
In 2023, Cudahy will be curating an exhibition of American artists at Semiose.
Lore Stessel, Rossicontemporary
Rossicontemporary brought together a poetic selection of differently sized photographs by Lore Stessel in a SOLO booth, placed across the walls at varying heights.
Each photo had a unique matte texture, hinting towards the physicality of the dancers she photographs, with hands, shadows, and other evocative snapshots suggesting the ephemeral nature of movement.
Stessel is based in Brussels, having received her Master in photography from the Ecole Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles in 2012, the same year she received the Foundation Louis Roederer award.
Bea Bonafini, Eduardo Secci
London-based Bea Bonafini graduated with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art in 2016, and has since expanded the possibilities of painting through her unique approach to material.
At Art Brussels, Eduardo Secci presented a series of the artists gouache and watercolour on engraved cork paintings as well as hand-tufted bamboo silk tapestries, in which anthropomorphic shapes combine with human and animal forms.
Main image: Paintings by Anthony Cudahy on view at Semiose, Art Brussels (28 April–1 May 2022). Courtesy Semiose, Paris. Photo: Philip Poppek.