BRUSSELS GALLERY WEEKEND: ESCAPE NEEDED MORE THAN EVER
In conversation with the director of BGW Sybille du Roy de Blicquy
Between the 3rd and 6th of this September, the city of Brussels will be overflown with contemporary art on the occasion of the 13th edition of the Brussels Gallery Weekend. This event is dedicated to art galleries, non-profit spaces, artists and collectors and will be celebrated across different art venues. The rich art programme curated by the BGW committee under the directorship of Sybille du Roy de Blicquy will allow people to discover both emerging and established artists. Contemporary Lynx had the pleasure to talk to Sybille about this year’s edition.
Sylwia Krason: What is the highlight of the programme? What are the must-sees this year?
Sybille du Roy de Blicquy: The galleries have worked on a great and strong program. For example, CLEARING will have a show with Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel, who’ll also have a show at Museum Van Buren at the same time. This year institutions worked hand in hand with the galleries to give artists the opportunity to extend their shows outside the gallery spaces. Another example is Gauthier Hubert who shows at Irène Laub and Botanique. Besides this I’m very excited to see the show by Anton Reijnders at Fracas but also David Tobon, an artist of our Generation Brussels 2019 who’s now showing at Felix Frachon. Some big names are present, like Lionel Estève at Baronian, David Altmejd at Xavier Hufkens and also Richard Aldrich at Gladstone Gallery. And many more of course.
This year 39 galleries planned to participate in the BGW. What were your criteria for choosing these galleries?
First of all I’m not the one choosing the galleries but it’s the committee, which is made up of different gallery profiles in order to listen to everyone. The basic criteria is the representation of artists, in addition to secondary market or participating in fairs. The program of the gallery is also considered, as well as the show that will take place in September. The committee wants to be inclusive and often invites newcomers with younger projects or galleries from abroad who want to settle in Brussels. This is how Arcade started its participation in the BGW last year.
‘Generation Brussels’ brings together a range of artists living and working in Brussels, whether they’re art school students, recent graduates, up-and-coming artists, or those with a bit more experience. Could you tell us more about ‘Generation Brussels’ and how does it fit with BGW?
The aim of the show is to give some visibility to artists who are not yet represented by galleries. The project has been discussed with the committee. The galleries do local research on young artists, let’s say we participate in this process . Over the years we have noticed that galleries acquired works by our artists, visited their studios and sometimes even started representing them. Curators also contact them and last but not least, the show has some nice echo in the press which is a nice springboard for them too.
In light of the pandemic, what has been the most difficult aspect of organizing BGW?
Ahah, I would say the multiplication of problems and the remodelling of the concept. We have re-mastered the Gallery Weekend with a new website which allows the galleries to present their exhibitions with videos, installation views and details of the works. The collectors will be able to contact the galleries through the website and inquire about the works. The other major change is our show Generation Brussels which will be in shop windows all around the city. We tried to imagine a Covid-proof exhibition which can take place in all situations and be seen by everyone. Another change is the format of the VIP events.
In your view, is it a good time to buy contemporary art? Has the pandemic led to a lot of new interesting art being shown by the galleries? Do you expect a lot of new art collectors to visit BGW or rather rely on the old network?
I think it’s too early to see if artists have changed their work or adapted to the current situation. For now and based on the program in September I can say that galleries keep having a strong program and a commitment to their artists. As for the collectors and art lovers we definitely count on the usual visitors and still hope we can welcome new ones. Everything has been adapted in order to welcome limited groups of collectors, a brand new VIP Covid-proof program has been developed. I guess we’ll be able to tell you more after the event.
How to attract new art buyers in current circumstances? Is there any advice you would like to share with our readers and gallery owners?
People need some escape more than ever. During the Galleries Open Doors, we noticed that visitors were happy to be back in galleries, discover new artists and even buy art. We’ll have to live with Covid for a while so my best advice would be to make sure you make people feel safe when they come to your gallery and keep focusing on good content.
You are an art adviser and used to be a gallery director. How did you first get involved with BGW, and what are your plans for the future?
As a director at Rodolphe Janssen I’ve been invited to be part of the BGW committee. This is how it all started. As for the future we just launched the Brussels Gallery Walks as well as Art Across Europe. Both are some extensions of the weekend and keep our project going through the whole year.
Interviewed by Sylwia Krason
Edited by Laura Mancini
Contemporary Lynx is a proud media partner of Brussels Gallery Weekend. The event takes place between the 3rd and 6th of September 2020.