an early 20th Century West Pende mask, from the DR Congo, my favourite ethnographic piece of the BRAFA in 2023

Through our membership of the Vereniging Vrienden Etnografica, a Dutch group linked by their interest in ethnographic art, we are every year invited to the BRAFA, the Brussels Art Fair, usually held at the beginning of the year.  This year’s version had its opening on January 29th, 2023. Officially, our main interest are the four or five stands that exhibit the most fabulous ethnographic works, mostly from West Africa, and way beyong the means of the average collector. But obviously, the much of the rest of the BRAFA, especially its modern and contemporary art, is also of interest to us – and equally unaffordable, of course. What I like is that, yes, a few of the great and famous are represented, but there is also a lot of work of lesser known artists. Which is surprisingly attractive, too.

Just a few pictures, to highlight the wide variety of works of interest to me. Obviously, this is a pretty subjective selection, there is much more to admire.

Nicolas de Stael: ‘Marine’, oil on canvas from 1954, available for a shocking 3 million Euros

another Bela Kadar, a watercolour aptly named ‘Constructivist Cityscape with Green Horse’ (ca 1920s)

‘Village Horse and Rider’ (ca 1920s), gouache on paper from Bela Kadar

an oil on canvas from Geer van Velde, like many of his paintings simply called ‘Composition’ (ca. 1954)

‘Vlaamse Hoeve’ (1928) van Gust de Smet

Jef Verheyen, ‘Compositie’, an oil on canvas from 1955

a fabulous sculpture of a guy named Panamerenko, called ‘Brazil’ (2004)

and a detail of the same

I liked this ‘Figure with Strawberries’ from Tony Matelli, a concrete-painted bronze (!!) from 2019

Marcel-Louis Baugniet: ‘Marin Americain’ (1925, oil on canvas), how simple can painting be?

‘Gertrude’ (1992) from Phillippe Hiquily, bronze patine

and ‘Grand Mimi Patte en l’Air’ (1987), same thing, same artist

a huge oil on wood, ‘Women in Beach Chairs’ (1939), from Floris Jespers

Lynn Chadwick sculpture ‘Two Watchers IV’ from 1959, made of iron and composite

a zoomorphic statue, from the Sakalava people, Madagascar

and ‘Potatopoultry’ (2008), a painted steel work by John Chamberlain

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