Berlin Wall panels among the treasures at Brafa

Five graffitied fragments from the Berlin Wall will be auctioned for charity, as the Brussels art fair opens its doors to collectors

Brafa 2020’s five graffitied panel segments of the Berlin Wall
Brafa 2020’s five graffitied panel segments of the Berlin Wall | Image: Raf Michiels

The Brussels-based art fair Brafa is a well-established trove for collectors, but this year it is offering a piece of cultural history in the form of five large graffitied panels from the Berlin Wall, which were acquired by the non-profit fair in 2018 and will be auctioned during the show’s run (from January 26 to February 2). Chairman Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke is behind the sale, which will benefit five charities. “I travelled to Nova Scotia in Canada where I happened to stumble upon a segment of the Berlin Wall in a tiny fishing village,” he says. “This discovery was so improbable that it made me think about the symbolism of the wall and the message that it conveys, even in some of the most remote places on earth.”

Abstract Composition, by Sam Francis (1963), will be shown by Boon Gallery
Abstract Composition, by Sam Francis (1963), will be shown by Boon Gallery
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This year’s gathering includes 133 galleries – a mix of Belgian and international names. Eight are newcomers, and some entrants such as David Aaron and ArtAncient – both specialists in works of the antique world – will be arriving from London. “It’s worth noting that half of the new exhibitors at the event specialise in ancient art, which signals our commitment to this area of specialisation, despite the recent expansion of our scope to include contemporary art,” de Roodenbeke says.

Still Life With Lobster, Artichokes, Asparagus and Fruits (circa 1630-1640), by Frans Snyders, will be presented by Klaas Muller
Still Life With Lobster, Artichokes, Asparagus and Fruits (circa 1630-1640), by Frans Snyders, will be presented by Klaas Muller
George Nakashima’s Conoid Bench (1974) can be seen at Gokelaere & Robinson gallery
George Nakashima’s Conoid Bench (1974) can be seen at Gokelaere & Robinson gallery

Standouts to hunt down include Still Life With Lobster, Artichokes, Asparagus and Fruits (circa 1630-1640) by the Antwerp artist Frans Snyders – an oil on panel (priced from €350,000), which will be showcased by Klaas Muller. At the other end of the artistic spectrum is US artist George Nakashima’s Conoid Bench (offers in excess of £50,000) – a beautifully crafted piece of furniture made in 1974 in American black walnut, hickory and rosewood, presented by the Brussels-based art gallery Gokelaere & Robinson. A work by the Belgian sculptor Pol Bury, 21 Rods Reflected in a Curve (1967), priced around €150,000, will be shown by La Patinoire Royale – Galerie Valérie Bach, while Abstract Composition 1963 (around €80,000), a watercolour on paper by American painter and printmaker Sam Francis, will be offered by Boon Gallery.

Oshe Shango Sceptre Yoruba, Nigeria, a 19th-century piece in wood, will be showcased by Serge Schoffel
Oshe Shango Sceptre Yoruba, Nigeria, a 19th-century piece in wood, will be showcased by Serge Schoffel
Pol Bury’s 21 Rods Reflected in a Curve (1967), in brass with an electric motor, will take centre stage at La Patinoire Royale – Galerie Valérie Bach
Pol Bury’s 21 Rods Reflected in a Curve (1967), in brass with an electric motor, will take centre stage at La Patinoire Royale – Galerie Valérie Bach

Belgium is one of the world centres for tribal art, and a Kota reliquary from Gabon, west Africa, dating from the early 20th century will be offered by Didier Claes (priced at €85,000), while a 19th-century female reliquary figure (€85,000) from Southern Cameroon will be among the highlights at Serge Schoffel art gallery.

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