Your Guide to Brussels Gallery Weekend

From Nathanaëlle Herbelin’s stunning depictions of quotidian encounters to Javier Barrios’s evocations of Buddhist hell scrolls 

BY Laura Herman in Critic's Guides | 07 SEP 23

Lili Dujourie

Jan Mot

07 September – 28 October

Lili Dujourie
Lili Dujourie, Sonnet, 1974, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Jan Mot, Brussels; photograph: Mina Albespy

Lili Dujourie’s first exhibition with Jan Mot centres around her seminal sculptural piece, Amerikaans Imperialisme (American Imperialism) (1972–2023), a steel plate leaning against the wall. The artwork, which originated as a critique of the growing prominence of minimalist sculpture and its association with imperialist politics, was only first exhibited in 1979, as Dujourie withdrew from the art world during the period when her husband ran MTL gallery in Brussels. At Jan Mot, the colour and size of the piece have been adjusted to the gallery’s context and dimensions. The work reflects the artist’s desire to challenge conventional aesthetic norms and defy categorization. 

Nathanaëlle Herbelin

Xavier Hufkens

25 August – 21 October

Nathanaëlle Herbelin
Nathanaëlle Herbelin, Elisha, 2022, oil on canvas, 1.8 × 1.1 m. Courtesy: the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, 

Nathanaëlle Herbelin’s debut presentation at Xavier Hufkens, ‘Undivided Attention’, comprises a series of paintings of quotidian encounters. As the show’s title implies, the artist dedicates considerable time to creating her works, which often feature herself, other individuals from her private circle or, occasionally, strangers engrossed in daily rituals and routines. For instance, she portrays her partner, Jeremie, reclining in a bathtub (Jeremie au bain, 2023) and herself during pregnancy (Elisha, 2022). Set in unassuming spaces – bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, the artist’s studio – the scenes are painted in muted tones In an interview conducted for the show, Herbelin said of her subjects that her approach is ‘not to record them on canvas but, instead, to share an emotional experience in time’. Seemingly opposing the relentless rush of our fast-paced, always-on society, Herbelin explores the significance of dedicating time to intimate moments while striving to encapsulate the essence of transience in her paintings.

Charles Stankievech


07 September – 21 October 

Charles Stankievech
Charles Stankievech, ‘The Eye of Silence’ series, 2022, video still. Courtesy: the artist and KIN, Brussels

At newcomer gallery KIN, Charles Stankievech immerses visitors in an otherworldly exploration of unconventional theories surrounding the inception of life, consciousness and art. While contemporary discussions often revolve around apocalyptic visions of planetary finitude, the artist here redirects our focus to the very beginnings of existence, bridging the realms of the cosmic and the chthonic. Initially conceived as an installation for a former planetarium, ‘The Desert Turned to Glass’ is a portal into this timeless inquiry. A meteorite – the epitome of site-specificity – hovers above a sandy terrain and is accompanied by a video (The Eye of Silence, 2022), which delves into the depths of time. It takes visitors from a black pool of petroleum to caves, volcanoes, a meteorite crater in the Namibian desert and out into the cosmos to explore how life on Earth began.

Javier Barrios and Julia Yerger


07 September – 21 October 

Javier Barrios
Javier Barrios, Orquídea Con Decoración Facial Iii (Todo de Turquesas E Intestinos Soy), 2023, pastel and sanguine on paper, 65 × 50 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Clearing, Brussels and New York

Clearing presents two contemporaneous solo shows, by Javier Barrios and Julia Yerger, which mark both artists’ European and gallery debuts. ‘Offerings to the Nocturnal Hours’ includes a selection of Barrios’s drawings, watercolours and sculptures, as well as a new series of oil paintings. The works explore the relationship between the human realm and the natural world while also shedding light on colonial violence, looting and appropriation. Barrios’s broad-ranging practice is reminiscent of Mexican muralism, particularly the work of José Clemente Orozco, but his references also encompass cartoons, manga, historical illustrations, botanical and zoological textbooks, and 12th century Buddhist Jigoku Zoshi (Hell Scrolls), marked by fiery reds and oranges and menacing demons. Having initially confined her practice to digital media, Yerger has ventured into the physical realm over the past three years. ‘Yard Problems’ features a selection of oil paintings, collages and works on paper that straddle the line between abstraction and figuration. 

‘Generation Brussels’

Globe Aroma and Indigo Ateliers

September 07 – 10

Chloe Arrouy
Chloe Arrouy, Affective Dependance, 2022, steel, fabrics and bred. Courtesy: © the artist and Jednavatri Gallery

Brussels Gallery Weekend invited curator Sam Steverlynck to compile this year’s ‘Generation Brussels’ show. Drawing inspiration from Luis Buñuel’s 1977 masterpiece, That Obscure Object of Desire, the eponymous exhibition engages with the film’s enigmatic atmosphere rather than its explicit themes. Featuring artworks by Chloé Arrouy, Aurélie Bayad, Maëlle Dufour, Bas van den Hout, Yvan Megal, Lucian Moriyama and Nina Robert, the show possesses an unsettling quality that simultaneously repels yet attracts. In addition, Brussels Gallery Weekend has embarked on two new collaborations: one with Ateliers Indigo, a platform that organizes art workshops for people with disabilities, and another with Globe Aroma, an organization supporting recent migrants. 

Katja Seib


07 September – 28 October

Katja Seib
Katja Seib, LA gallerist, 2023, oil on canvas, 2.2 × 1.7 m. Courtesy: the artist, Sadie Coles HQ, London, and dépendance, Brussels; photo by Elon Schoenholz

In her second solo exhibition at dépendance, ‘The Softest Pain Is the Pain au Chocolat’, Katja Seib presents a collection of artworks that intimately depict her everyday surroundings interwoven with dreamlike and allegorical symbolism. Employing a subtle interplay of texture and imagery, the artist combines softened brushwork with wet strokes in swift sweeps. In recent years, Seib’s art has taken on an increasingly autobiographical dimension, featuring portraits of herself and her friends that explore women’s lived experiences. One particularly striking painting here addresses the dissociative experience of motherhood (Postpartum, 2023). Seib seeks to transcend the confines of traditional painting by incorporating various materials, such as a crochet spiderweb created in collaboration with her mother (Mit dem Herzen denken, Think with the Heart, 2023). The exhibition also features a new series of hand-painted glazed ceramic works, featuring cats and faces, that allude to the tradition of decorative wall plates.

Mathis Pfäffli

Damien & The Love Guru

07 September – 28 October

Mathis Pfaffli
Mathis Pfäffli, Europaplatz 1, 2022, aluminum, electronic scrap, LED, cable, magnets, found objects, glass, concrete, 60 × 60 × 50 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Damien & The Love Guru, Brussels 

Mathis Pfäffli brings together an ensemble of pre-existing works – including drawings, small sculptures and installations – for the first time at Damien & The Love Guru. Constructed from cut, folded metallic sheets, combined with objects discovered serendipitously or received as tokens from friends, the installations act as memorials of meaningful locations in the artist’s life. Perched atop four legs, Temporary Relations (Zollikerstrasse 249) (2023) functions as a scale model of the building that houses both the artist’s studio and the gallery in Switzerland where he initially crossed paths with his gallerist. Another memorial, Jans House with Circumstancial Intertwinings (La Dépendance, St. Imier) (2023), elevated on a crate, represents La Dépendance, a residency nestled in the Jura region of Switzerland, to which the artist has often returned. Hung on the walls are non-functional glasses made from ancient stones that hint at the difficulty of looking at art without filters or preconceptions (Glasses, 2022).

Laís Amaral

Mendes Wood DM

07 September – 28 October

Lais Amaral
Laís Amaral, Untitled II, 2023, acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, 3 × 1.7 m. Courtesy: the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels and New York 

For ‘Estude fundo’ (Deep Study), Laís Amaral has produced a series of non-figurative paintings exploring the impact of environmental collapse on contemporary society, particularly in Brazil, where desertification serves as a metaphor for blanqueamiento (social whitening). The works impress upon viewers the need to transform our way of thinking, with water symbolizing freedom amidst urban aridity. Informed by her engagement with the racially diverse population of Brazil, Amaral’s practice encourages a reading of the world through non-white narratives and a reconnection with nature. The resulting pieces in the artist’s first solo exhibition in Belgium aim to defy the conventions of abstract painting by incorporating beads and textures to create a layered, non-linear visual language. 

Main image: Javier Barrios, Prayer/Predicador detail, 2023, oil on canvas, 98 × 81 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Clearing, Brussels and New York 

Laura Herman is a curator and writer currently working at La Loge, a Brussels-based space dedicated to contemporary art, architecture and theory.