Brafa 2016: Mark Colle sets a floral scene

The Brussels art fair ups the ante with an extraordinary welcome

The art world is saying it with flowers in Brussels this week, as one of the biggest names in floristry turns the halls of former industrial building Tour & Taxis into a botanical marvel at the Brussels Antiques & Fine Arts Fair (Brafa, January 23-31). This year’s guest of honour, leading Antwerp florist Mark Colle – who has created installations for Dior, Jil Sander and Dries Van Noten, among others – will be collaborating with Ghent Floralies, the flower festival dating back to 1809, on a number of stunning floral designs.

Colle has worked on many fashion shows, but an art fair is a first. “When I work for fashion designers, my floral creations are just shown during the catwalk show,” he says. “At the fair my work will be on show to visitors continuously for 10 days – an honour, but also a technical challenge. As well as considering flowers for their aesthetic value, I need to think about the suitability of each type to look fresh for the duration of the fair. I don’t want to give too much away, but the design will provide quite a futuristic setting for Brafa.”

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The flowers will not last forever, of course, but collectors will be able to find more enduring floral souvenirs at the stands of some of Brafa’s 136 exhibitors. Highlights include a still life with roses and tulips (€160,000, second picture) by 17th-century Utrecht artist Ambrosius Bosschaert the Younger, up for sale at Douwes Fine Art, and Marc Chagall’sBride and Groom (€3.4m, first picture), a 1979 work that features a vibrant bouquet in the foreground, at Galerie Boulakia. The best of the bunch indeed.

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