Your Guide to Brussels Gallery Weekend

Ahead of this year’s edition of the gallery event, the pick of exhibitions to see in town

BY Fabian Schöneich in Critic's Guides | 05 SEP 19

Marguerite Humeau, The Prayer, 2019, polystyrene, polyurethane resin, fiberglass, steel skeleton, 2.0 × 2.9 × 1.0 m. Courtesy: the artist and CLEARING, New York/Brussels; photograph: © Eden Krsmanovic

Marguerite Humeau, ‘MIST’
6 September – 19 October

In her first solo show at the Brussels branch of Clearing, French artist Marguerite Humeau presents a new series of sculptures under the title ‘MIST’. In recent exhibitions at Tate Britain and Hamburger Kunstverein, she has often referred to the origins of humanity and the communication between creatures and alien worlds, but here Humeau takes her research to another level. In cooperation with anthropologists, palaeontologists and zoologists, she created sculptures and soundscapes that speculatively explore our times. As a universe in its own right, ‘MIST’ creates a dystopian setting in which the mass extinction of species has become unavoidable, forcing non-human creatures to become spiritual beings in order to survive.

Hana Miletić, Materials, 2019, hand-woven textile, brown-grey raw wool, golden metal yarn, 25 × 19 × 1 cm. Courtesy: the artist and LambdaLambdaLambda/La Maison de Rendez-Vous; photograph: Isabelle Arthuis

Hana Miletić, ‘Retour au travail’
La Maison de Rendez Vous
6 September – 19 October

Under the title ‘Retour au travail’ (Return to work), Croatian artist Hana Miletić presents new works with LambdaLambdaLambda at La Maison de Rendez Vous, an exhibition space run collectively by various international galleries. Miletić’s works can be described as far more than sculptures, they rather represent social realities: ‘RAD’ (Work, 2019), for instance, is a series of handmade carpets she developed in collaboration with the Croatian carpet factory Regeneracija. Founded in the former USSR, Regeneracija is one of the few factories that didn’t have to close after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Inspired by their technique of tufting, Miletić added a different layer to the carpets by using found materials such as tarpaulins from construction sites and scaffolding shrouds from the area near Zagreb.

Radcliffe Bailey, Untitled, 2019, installation view, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Courtesy: the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York 

Radcliffe Bailey, ‘The Ocean Between’
Maruani Mercier
6 September – 31 October

Maruani Mercier opens the season with a major show by Radcliffe Bailey, featuring works that deal with the notion of being Afro-American. It makes sense that Bailey does not wish to reduce himself to a single medium as his works are as diverse and complex as the history on which they are based. His paintings and collage-like sculptures refer to the history of slavery in the United States, but also to the daily racism to which he himself is exposed. With the range of found materials and images he uses, Bailey links minor and personal stories with collective memory.

Carey Young, Palais de Justice, 2017, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Carey Young, ‘Palais de Justice’
La Loge
6 September – 19 October

The Palace of Justice, the eclectic monumental building by architect Joseph Poelaert, is a major Brussels landmark and symbolizes the grandeur of the law like no other place in the Belgian capital. In 2017, artist Carey Young filmed the courts secretly through the circular windows of the courtrooms to reveal its patriarchal legal culture. In Young’s film presented at La Loge, however, the artist focuses exclusively on female judges and lawyers, and thus creates a fictional world in which women administer the law and male dominance has become obsolete. Again and again, the lens of her camera is reflected in the glass window, exposing the friction between the real trials Young has documented and matriarchy into which she has transformed them. 

Gabriel Kuri, .)(., 2013, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Franco Noero, Turin; photograph: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Gabriel Kuri, ‘Sorted, Resorted’
6 September – 5 January 2020

In an extensive solo exhibition entitled ‘Sorted, Resorted’, WIELS presents the work of Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri who has been living and working in the Belgian capital for sixteen years. Between minimalism and consumerism, Kuri transforms items from everyday life into art, creating sculptures, installations and collages. The exhibition and its catalogue divide his work into four categories – paper, plastic, metal, building materials – and there is an emphasis on sorting as a key practice of Kuri. Creating ordering principles out of very different materials, Kuri articulates a humorous, almost poetic critique of political, social or economic systems and conditions.

Emmanuel Van der Auwera, The sky is on fire, 2019, installation view, Botanique, Brussels. Courtesy: the artist Harlan Levey Projects, Brussels; photograph: Gilles Ribero 

Emmanuel Van der Auwera
Harlan Levey Projects
6 September – 14 December

Two new films by Emmanuel Van der Auwera are currently on view in Brussels, one at Harlan Levey Projects and another at Botanique, the city’s botanical garden. Based on theoretical logic, Van der Auwera deconstructs pictures and image technologies in mass media, examining their use and their influence on different target groups. Who are they aimed at and for what purpose? The Death of K9 Cigo (2019), shown at Harlan Levey, exposes how new media technologies alter and influence our perception. From the high-school shooting in Parkland, Florida, its aftermath in the media and fallout in the community, to the death of the police dog K-9 Cigo in December 2018, the artist explores media views of traumatic events using footage from countless private mobile phones. The sheer mass of information, gathered from various online video platforms, influences the way we perceive events and we must ask how far we can trust these sources.

Paul Thek, Untitled (I am, Am I?), 1975/92, etching on handmade twinrocker paper, estate stamped, 11 × 9 cm. Courtesy: Estate of George Paul Thek, Alexander and Bonin, New York, Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich, and Jan Mot, Brussels; photograph: Joerg Lohse

Paul Thek, ‘I AM, AM I?’
Jan Mot
6 September – 26 October

Jan Mot presents Paul Thek’s first solo show in Belgium under the title ‘I AM, AM I?’. Thek, who died in the late 1980s, started as a painter in New York before he located to Europe, where his work was celebrated at various museums including Amsterdam’s Stedelijk. On show at Jan Mot are etchings from a 28-part series found in the artist’s storage after his death. The small-format works range from etchings of stars and comets, biblical scenes to more simple motifs like a campfire or plum. It is a small but exquisite exhibition that whets the appetite for more from this complex and diverse body of work.

Translated by Nicholas Grindell

Main image: Carey Young, Palais de Justice, 2017, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Fabian Schöneich is a curator and writer based in Berlin, Germany.