This year marks the Belgian debut of Independent, the New York-based art fair defined above all by its inclusive curatorial ethos. Hosting over 60 galleries from 20th to 23rd April in downtown Brussels’ Vanderborght Building, the fair’s Belgian contingents include 11 galleries and non-profits. And, in anticipation of the fair’s opening this evening at 18h00, we caught up with three of them – Soft Focus InstituteMier Mier, and Office Baroque – to talk excitement and expectations.

Interior of Vanderborght building building, by Isabelle Arthuis, 2016.

Interior of Vanderborght building building, by Isabelle Arthuis, 2016.

Soft Focus Institute by co-founder Marijke De Roover

Founded in 2015, Ghent-based The Soft Focus Institute is an art space and and research hub, founded by artist Marijke De Roover and gallerist Tatjana Pieters.

Did Brussels really need another art fair? 

I do think fairs are interesting for taking place during a concentrated place and time frame. But fairs are almost always boring big marketplaces.  Independent has a different take on this.  The fair only host a very limited amount of booths where each gallery presents small, curated exhibitions. Since Soft Focus Institute is constantly evolving and a free floating platform, this idea of a fair being more like a show suits us wonderfully.

This idea of a fair being more like a show suits us wonderfully.

What are your hopes for this first edition of Independent? 

Well, I hope it will be a critical success and that people will find their way to the fair. Entrance is free so I hope it attracts all different kinds of people.  We just started our platform so some press coverage would be nice. We are there with some of the top galleries in the world! Bring it on! As for myself…well I have high hopes.

What will you be showing at your booth this year?

We will be showing some amazing paintings by British abstract painter Clive Hodgson and a BBQ video installation by myself (Marijke De Roover). I’m very much looking forward to this collaboration! We are completely in love with  Clive.

www.softfocusinstitute.space

building copy

Interior view of the Vanderborght building by Isabelle Arthuis, 2016.

Mulier Mulier by Erik and Luc Mulier

Mullier Mullier is a Knokke-based gallery founded in 1998 and representing artists such as Panamarenko, Art & Language, Guy Van Bossche, Pol Bury, Tadashi Kawamata, James Lee Byars, Guillaume Bijl and Robert Mapplethorpe. 

Did Brussels really need another art fair? 

Brussels needs an art fair with more of an international profile.

What will you be showing at your booth this year ?

Josef Kosuth, Art & Language, Richard Long.

Where will you be taking your clients for drinks and dinner in Brussels ?

It’s fantastic that Independent takes place in the center, so you have a bigger choice .

www.muliermuliergallery.com

Independent’s venue, the Vanderborght building by Isabelle Arthuis, 2016.

Office Baroque by director Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte

Wim Peeters & Marie Denkens laid the foundations for Office Baroque in 2007. Previously based in their apartment in Antwerp, Office Baroque currently based in the Dansaert area of Brussels. It represents emerging and established artists such as David Diao, Jan de Cock, Liam Everett, Keith Farquhar, Catherine Aheam, Tyson Reeder and Margaret Salmon.

Did Brussels really need another art fair? 

Anything that pluralizes the way galleries or art fairs show art when people come to Brussels is a good thing. The most successful brand this April will be the city of Brussels, as it will present itself as a vibrant art city. Independent will be a breath of fresh air and bring extra energy to Brussels. It will be seen as an alternative in dialogue with the city’s dynamic space that fosters collaboration and creativity. 

The most successful brand this April will be the city of Brussels

What are your hopes for this first edition of Independent?

With its open atmosphere, Independent feels like a community and we’re enthusiastic about the dialogue that will occur between the exhibitions in the different booths.

What will you be showing at your booth this year?

On the occasion of Independent Brussels Belgian artist Jan De Cock will curate a wunderkammer  presentation for Office Baroque featuring emerging and established gallery artists such as Tyson Reeder, Leigh Ledare, Catharine Ahearn, Mathew Cerletty and Michael Rey. Jan’s presentation will gather artists from different latitudes and generations, paying attention to diverse artistic viewpoints as they are being articulated today, added to the perspective of the specific, creative context of Brussels.

What are you looking forward to seeing at Independent this year?

I’m actually looking forward to seeing all the booths at the fair, especially the ones of Gavin Brown, Canada, Chantal Crousel, Kaufmann Repetto, Neue Alte Brücke, White Columns and David Zwirner as well as the presentation of Le Salon. In the city I look forward to seeing the solo exhibitions of Oscar Tuazon at dépendance and Edith Dekyndt at Greta Meert. I’m also very excited for our own solo of Daniel Sinsel and the group exhibition 8 Femmes that references François Ozon’s movie

Where will you be taking your clients for drinks and dinner in Brussels?

I would take collectors to Bar Beton, with its concrete bar—an exact replica of the reception desk at Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille—is the perfect place for post-fair drinks. At Comptoir des Galeries collectors can get bistro food with a gastronomic flair while Taverne du Passage serves Belgian classics in an art deco setting that takes you back to the days of Marcel Broodthaers.

www.officebaroque.com