With much anticipation, Art Brussels‘ 30th edition opened its doors to a select few last night (collectors, sponsors’ guests and the press) for a preview that did not disappoint. We spent a few hours cruising the fair’s many alleys which, compared to the previous years, felt airier and less overloaded – you could actually distinguish one artwork from the other this time. As always, Hall 1 housed the more emerging galleries and artists, whilst Hall 3 was blue-chip territory. With somewhat of a focus on fine art photography and drawings, here’s our pick of galleries that deserve a mention, and a visit.

Crown Gallery

Crown Gallery is showing a mixture of painting and photography, with Massimo Vitali‘s large-scale photograph of bathers (‘Catania nr.2808’, 2007) and Manuel Caeiro’s geometric paintings (of which ‘Domestic Viability’#4, 2010 was particularly striking) stealing the show. Gallery-owner Jacques Vandaele also brought along two of Charif Benhelima‘s over-exposed and blurry close-ups of still lives – flowers in a pot and roots (‘Memorial I’, 2008 and ‘Occupancy II’, 2008). Not to be missed on the booth’s outer walls: Katrien Vermeire‘s blue-toned forest (‘Godspeed 6’, 2010).  All in all, another strong showing from the Brussels-based gallery, with Benhelima’s work being a welcome discovery.

Massimo Vitali

Charif Benhelima

M+B Gallery

A little further on, Los Angeles’ M+B shows a series of four black and white prints by Kohei Yoshiyuki‘s well-known series ‘The park’, a body of work made in the 1970s which captures both heterosexual and homosexual couples in Tokyo’s Chuo, Yoyogi, and Aoyama Parks engaging in sexual activity with peeping toms bizarrely lurking in the bushes.

Kohei Yoshiyuki

Galerie Alain Gutharc

Further down the alley, Paris’ Galerie Alain Gutharc has three prints  of Vincent J. Stocker‘s ongoing Heterotopia series (‘Hétérotopie #LAECVUI’, ‘Hétérotopie #PEBBI’ and ‘Hétérotopie #IAEDFBII’), an oeuvre that captures desolate interiors, frozen-over worlds most often-than-not taken over by the cold.

Vincent J. Stocker

Aeroplastics

Just opposite Galerie Alain Gutharc, Brussels’ aeroplastics contemporary shows a haunting, oversized charcoal drawing of a veiled woman by Romanian artist Mircea Suciu as well as a giant canvas by Swiss prankster Leopold Rabus depicting a naked woman turning her back to the viewer, holding a canary.

Mircea Suciu

Leopold Rabus

Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani

Further on, Milan’s prometeogallery di ida pisani shows a series of five prints from Rossela Biscotti showing ‘Performance, 2010’ which captures a man running through the former Olivetti factory complex in Pozzuoli.

Rossela Biscotti

Geukens and De Vil

Knokke’s Geukens and De Vil, which has what is most probably one of the strongest booths at the fair, show some truly stunning drawings, one by Stijn Cole, a penciled dyptich showing details of a wild forest, another by Gideon Kiefer, a charcoal drawing of working men of a bygone era. One of our favourite booth.

Stijn Cole

Gideon Kiefer

Martin Asbaek Gallery

Martin Asbaek Gallery of Copenhagen, shows two magnificiently sensual prints by Astrid Kruse Jensen from her series ‘Disappearing into the past’: one, #72, captures a woman basking in a blinding sun, whilst the other, #8,  shows an eerie, evergreen-like forest. Definitely a must-see.

Astrid Kruse Jensen

Galerie Anita Beckers

Frankfurt’s Galerie Anita Beckers shows a soft and touching print by Colombian artist Maria Jose Arjona of a woman’s tatooed bare back which reads ‘Remember to remember’ (‘Remember to remember, 2008’).

Maria Jose Arjona

Anyspace

Brussels-based gallery Anyspace brought along several of photographer Michel Mazzoni‘s work, the best of which was a print entitled Fog, an ink jet print on archival paper.

Michel Mazzoni

Galerie Zink

Finally, Berlin’s Galerie Zink shows one of Belgian artist Rinus Van de Velde’s customary charcoal drawing which depicts a seemingly tormented chess player. You’ll also find some of Rinus’ work over at Tim Van Laere Gallery‘s booth. make the time for this, his work really is worth the detour (You can read here what we had already done on Rinus for our ‘Facing the blank canvas’ story).

Rinus Van de Velde

Inman Gallery

Well worth a look is American Gallery Inman, all the way from Texas. Don’t miss the work of Dario Robleto, whose melancholic-yet-hopeful series ‘Will the sun remember it all’ fixates on bygone musical icons like Johnny Cash and The Mamas and Papas. Interestingly, these kinda magical and captivating prints are based on scans of the artists’ album covers, or what remains of them after everything except light has been removed.

Dario Robleto

Krome Gallery

Berlin’s Krome gallery is showing a fascinating selection of photography and drawings, with Chicago-born artist Amie Siegel’s work standing out as the most intriguing. Her spellbinding and slightly apocalyptic artworks are based on film stills from her own personal remake of the movie ‘Black Moon’. Everything’s covered with a haunting black hole that not only refers to the black moon but also to the procedure of putting black spots on analogue film rolls to indicate the starting point of the action. Mesmerising.

Amie Siegel

Nosbaum&Reding

Luxembourg gallery Nosbaum&Reding is hosting a solo show of young homegrown artist Christian Frantzen, whose gripping, large-scale paintings in all shades of grey and black evoke in the spestator a feeling of urban loneliness, creating an atmosphere that makes us think of a modern Edward Hopper. Gloomy and melancholic.

Christian Frantzen

Harris Lieberman

New York-based Harris Lieberman gallery is featuring a photo series by American artist Lisa Oppenheim, whose somber images look like they’ve perhaps caught fire, an effect that’s achieved by the negatives’ exposure to actual flames. Also standing out at this booth is the work of Matt Saunders, who combines different mediums like photography, painting and drawing to great effect in his work.

Lisa Oppenheim