Filling up nine levels with more than 40 galleries and many more artists, Art on Paper has turned Brussels’ White Hotel in one gigantic exhibition space with each gallery occupying one hotel room. But humongous art fairs can be overwhelming and this one is no different, so we’ve done the rounds on your behalf, handpicking what we found – in our humble opinion – to be the absolute must-sees of this year’s edition. Those who tickled our fancy included young emerging talents like Hanne Van Rompaey to the more established names like American artist Scott Hunt. Eclectic and original and hosted in a pretty funky venue, Art on Paper draws attention the many potentials drawing can offer as an artistic discipline, bringing to centre stage a genre that far too often takes a backseat.
French artist Tony Soulié, part of the French ‘Nouvelle Abstraction’ movement in the 70s and 80s, is represented by Art Vitam. His vibrating, colourful water etchings are largely inspired by the natural landscapes he encounters on his travels, mainly in South Africa.
American artist Scott Hunt tops off our list, of course, with his meticulously crafted, melancholic drawings of urban loneliness and his vision of a dystopian America. If Edward Hopper, the grand master of American realism had been a drawer, this is probably what he would have done.
Galerie Arielle D’Hauterives is showing a number of captivating works by Kiev-born, Brussels-based artist Oxana Taran, whose drawings are made with common or garden ball-point pens and crayons. Don’t be fooled though, it’s a method that turns up mesmerising effects. In her images, Taran mostly deals with memories, cultural differences and what she calls a ‘schizophrenic way of living’.
As a special feature of this year’s edition there’s a small retrospective of Belgian artist Stéphane Mandelbaum who, though murdered at the tender age of 25, produced quite an impressive oeuvre. Suffering from dyslexia, drawing was Mandelbaum’s way of expressing himself and as someone who lived life on the edge, Mandelbaum’s drawings speak a dark, raw and authentic language.
The past, memories and relics of former lives sewn together to create sensual, organic collages: nostalgia is the pervasive theme in Pauline Tonglet‘s oeuvre. A Belgian artist based in the southern city of Namur and represented by Gery Art Gallery, Tonglet uses her own old family pictures and letters and stuff she picks up in flea markets, little treasures like maps, postcards and ancient photographs that she includes in her works.
Camille de Taeye
Camille de Taeye, born in 1938, is a veteran of the Belgian art scene. Galerie 2016 is showing a recent series that depicts mountain landscapes in Southern France, beautiful, spontaneously and emotionally crafted works that were created outside in nature under an open sky on wet, handcrafted paper.
Hanne Van Rompaey
Cypres Galerie is showcasing one of Ghent-based artist Hanne Van Rompaey‘s large-scale, hyper-realistic charcoal drawings. We love her nightly visions and urban and natural landscapes with their melancholic undertone. And the young artist – who’s just received her masters degree from Ghent’s Sint-Lucas – has already exhibited her work in renowned places like SMAK. We’re convinced the future is bright for this talented youngster.
The young talent contest
To support young talent, Art on Paper held a drawing contest that was open to all drawing students in their final year, and the lucky winners got an exhibition spot at the fair. La Cambre‘s Olivier Hennart (24) convinced the jury with his abstract, black and white landscapes that made up his ‘Walking’ series, while Antwerp-based Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx (23) won the judges over with his minimalist self-portraits.