One of the oldest and most highly acclaimed art fairs in the world, the Brussels Art Fair (BRAFA) will open its doors to the public on Friday, January 26th 2018 for ten days.
Since its establishment in 1956, BRAFA’s reputation and remit have grown dramatically. Originally held in the Arlequin Hall of the Galerie Louiza and thereafter the Palais des Beaux-Arts, the fair now exhibits at the prodigious Tour & Taxis, a former train station and icon of 19th-century Belgian industrial architecture. The larger exhibition space has allowed the fair to expand its number of participants dramatically from what was initially twenty Belgian antique dealers to what is now one hundred and thirty exhibitors from both Belgium and abroad.
The first Brussels Art Fair was an antiques fair, but it has since substantially expanded its range of works for sale. The pieces of art and objects showcased now at BRAFA span a staggering five thousand years of history. The artworks range from antiques to furniture, art from the Middle Ages to contemporary art and design, and from comic strips to porcelain to pique the interests of over sixty-thousand collectors and visitors from all over the world. The fair’s rigorous selection process ensures the art displayed is some of the best in the world, and as it is the first major global art exhibition of the year, BRAFA is commonly regarded by experts as a critical barometer of the art market. The fair’s international standing and importance within the wider art fair framework was profoundly underlined in 2009 when it was placed under the High Protection of Her Majesty Queen Paola.
The eclectic range of works on display at BRAFA coincides with the rich cultural history of Brussels itself within the wider European narrative. The early history of Brussels has traces spanning back to the Stone age and following this the region was under Roman occupation, the Frankish Empire and flourished during the Middle Ages when it became a commercial hub. It played a pivotal role in Early European history during the Early and Late modern periods, becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1830. During the 20th century the city underwent extensive modernisation, achieving international appreciation for its Art Nouveau, Art Deco and industrial architecture, which sits in stark contrast to Bruges’ medieval architecture. An international nucleus, Brussels serves as de facto capital of the European Union, and in 2000, the city was named as a European Capital of Culture.
Whether you want to buy a remarkable work of art to impress Bob and Debra down the road, have a New Year’s resolution to improve your chat at dinner parties, or just wish to travel through the ages on a visual culture journey while on holiday in Belgium, BRAFA is a phenomenal opportunity to tickle the visual senses.