TEFAF: a journey of 7,000 years in 7 days

It is the second world fair after Art Basel, and one of the most universal. After two empty years, it is a dive into 7,000 years of human representations.

For Bernard de Grunne, Brussels specialist in tribal art, “TEFAF remains the best generalist fair in the world, although covid and Poutine this year have postponed it at a time when many buyers and collectors are already in summer position at other latitudes”. For some galleries, the fairs make up three-quarters of their annual turnover, but he qualifies: “This market has no set rules: we sell one object for 800,000 euros a year, three objects for 50,000 euros another.” For tribal art, the market is played in Europe, and secondarily in the United States, Asian or South American buyers can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

“The first choice remains Art Basel (which has just closed, editor’s note). They are not necessarily the same artists, and the price levels here, at TEFAF, are more accessible.”

Frank Prazan

Applicat-Prazan Gallery

The Applicat-Prazan Gallery in Paris centered mainly on the Second School of Paris, a large and eclectic movement of the mid-20th centurye century (including Appel, Bazaine, Dubuffet, Hélion, Hartung) will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2023. Franck Prazan estimates that the first choice remains Art Basel (which has just closed, editor’s note). “They’re not necessarily the same artists, and the price levels here are more accessible.” At TEFAF, Karel Appel, as he suggests, is not from the same register as the one he exhibited at Art Basel (“Big bird flies over the city “, 1950). “If we choose a Masson for Art Basel, he fits in between the two periods of exile in Spain and the United States, between 1934 and 1944,” and TEFAF’s, “Delirium of Penthesilea“(1960) is later. I probably would not have shown Charchoune (“Good advice”1951) in Basel, or rather a purist or analytical painting. “Finally, one of the “Stone“from Magnelli to TEFAF gives it to one of the nineteen “Lyrical explosion” (1918) offered at Art Basel. One is sold for 480,000 euros, the other “several million”.

TEFAF, he concludes, is aimed at a natural basin located in one of the richest regions in the world, which includes the Netherlands, the greater Rhineland, while Art Basel is global.

Paris in Brussels

Another Parisian, but in Brussels, David Lévy presents a two-sided Simon Hantaï (1973), on the back, bright colors, on the front a studio from 1970, two-tone. A Picabia from 1948 (“The Magic of Coincidence“) faces him.” Picabia went from musicalism to cubism, hyperrealism inspired by advertising and photography, before surrealism in the 1940s. Hans Max Ernst (“Sea and moon “, 1925) is part of the frottage and scraping experiments: “While on holiday in Pornic, Brittany, he draws on a sheet on the floor and sees the tree printed as a watermark.” He makes a technique out of it, makes combs to reproduce the veins and adds a silver plate to the canvas to reproduce the waves of the sea illuminated by a moon as round as a photographic lens. David Lévy is not exhibiting at Art Basel, but wants to be at Art Basel Paris in the autumn of 2022, which will succeed FIAC, in a post-Brexit context that puts Paris in a strong position.

Chinese in London and Londoners in Beguinage

“Once the historic London galleries on Old Bond Street have become fashion boutiques, Brussels undeniably has a card to play.”

Two philosophical-Asian Englishmen face each other in their driveway in Maastricht. The first, Michael Goodhuis, presents the exceptional Wei Ligang, born in 1964, who in his eyes is transforming modern Chinese culture. “Famous calligrapher, physicist, mathematician, one discovers in his work the remains of calligraphic characters who switch to games of abstract forms, in which he injects colors to form columns of trembling circles (‘Emerald Peacock B ‘, 2018, and ‘Red Blue Peacock’, 2017). By loosening the famous Chinese line, which becomes flexible and free, he thus reaches a wider audience. “His second line of research makes him revisit the classic patterns of Han textiles from II.e century BCHan Brocade “2018), which evokes the monumental color streams of the Englishman Ian Davenport.

“After a couple of decades in London, I was bored, I was looking at New York, Paris, the prices scared me, and here I am in Brussels.”

Gregg Baker, who runs the Saturday Square Gallery behind Saint-Jean Baptiste au Béguinage, exhibits a graceful wooden figure of Jizō Bosatsu wearing a thin stick (Japan XIIIe century). “After a few decades in London, I was bored, I looked to New York, Paris, the prices scared me, and here I am in Brussels, where my wife and I met and got engaged. I know the Asian art scene.” Before Brexit, he moved his warehouse to a single room “where I can accommodate gallery and office by reducing my expenses by 75%, in the middle of a fraternity of collectors. My clients are mostly outside the UK, my balance point increasingly in Europe. With historic London galleries on Old Bond Street becoming fashion boutiques, Brussels undeniably has a card to play. “

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