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.”
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.
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.
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.