Press release

BAS 2018 - Best of the Netherlands

Brussels Art Square - OPEN HOUSE 2018 21 SEPT > 23 SEPT

Brussels Art Square preludes the season for the galleries in the Brussels Sablon neighbourhood. For this years edition they got company from fourteen of the best Dutch galleries. Remarkable is the brand new trail through the rich art and antiques offer of the galleries, chosen by six personalities (designer and photographer Fien Muller, chocolatier and pastry chef Pierre Marcolini, interior architect Gerald Watelet, interior architect Gert Voorjans, art advisor Stéphane Cauchies and the ambassador for the Netherlands in Belgium Maryem van den Heuvel) from the world of design, food and antiques.

Never before as many participants for Brussels Art Square

No less than 52 Brussels galleries welcome end of September the public to their Open House days at the Brussels Sablon. That’s an increase with more than ten per cent in comparison with the year before. The revival of the Sablon as the beating heart of the Belgian art trade has started.

For the fifth consecutive year Brussels Art Square – or shortly BAS – invites befriended gallerists from a specific country for their Open House days. Doing so, they want to give the opportunity to the Belgian public to get to know the international scene, and stimulate their own collegiality across the borders. After Great Britain, Spain, Italy and France the Netherlands is this years guest. The strong reputation of the Dutch galleries is remarkable: most of them hold a fixed position at Tefaf, the most prestigious art- and antiques fair in the world.

From the rich range offered by the 66 galleries, which goes from archaeological treasures from Egypt to Renaissance bronze sculptures and modern paintings to contemporary jewellery and glass art, and spans all periods and continents, six prominent art- and antiques lovers selected their favourite objects. Amongst these six are the Antwerp interior architect Gert Voorjans, chocolatier Pierre Marcolini who has his flagship store at Sablon, designer Fien Muller who comes from a family of antique dealers, the Dutch ambassador Maryem van den Heuvel, decorator and TV-personality Gerald Watelet and art advisor Stéphane Cauchies. Together these favourites form an exciting alternative trail.
In the second part of this press release they share their favourite objects, and explain why they fascinate them.

The Netherlands as guest of honour
In addition to the high quality, the diversity of the Dutch delegation is particularly striking. One of the participants is Douwes Fine Art, the Dutch flagship of antiques. Since 1770 the family runs an antiques business, equal to six generations. As a specialist in old masters Douwes Fine Art shows amongst others the drawing of Rembrandt, which adorns the campaign image, and a drawing of Paul Delvaux. Douwes is a guest at Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh, which is known for it’s innovative, more eclectic approach.

Joan Wijermars, specialised in sculpture from late 18thtill mid 20thcentury – mainly French and Italian neoclassical marble statues, participates each year at Tefaf. In Brussels he shows amongst others the Bust of an African boy (end of 17th, beginning of 18thcentury) from the Antwerp artist Jan Claudius de Cock. Wijermars conjugates its Brussels compeer, Galerie Desmet. In its impressive mansion it brings bronze Renaissance, Roman and Egyptian sculptures.

Also Erik Bijzet Sculpture and Works of Artfocuses mainly on sculpture, but his range goes from the middle ages till the beginning of the twentieth century. As the former head of the department European sculpture and art works at Sotheby’s in London he has a deep knowledge of the market. Moreover he has a very academic approach and excellent contacts with museums. In Brussels he shows amongst others an early fourteenth century French Virgin and child. Not only its size, but also its exceptional attention for details and the conservation of a big part of the original polychrome make this limestone sculpture one of the most exceptional examples of the Lorraine style. Bijzet is a guest at the gallery of Henri P. Vandekerckhove, a young art dealer who shows work by James Ensor.

The Haarlem-based gallery Darwin, Sinke & van Tongerenchanges the course. With their innovative use of seventeenth-century techniques the artist duo Sinke & van Tongeren puts the world of taxidermy upside-down. They make objects and pictures, and sold all 39 pieces of their second show in 2015 to Damien Hirst. In Brussels they show their work at Art Sablon, the eclectic gallery of Nathan Uzal and Jonathan F. Kugel.

About Brussels Art Square
Since 2006 the Brussels non-profit organisation Brussels Art Square unites the art and antiques dealers from the Sablon neighbourhood, which since the end of the Second World War grew to the Belgian art and antique epicentre. In addition to the annual Open House, the organisation encourages the interests of the galleries throughout the year. It promotes the Sablon nationally and internationally as a cultural quarter, which thanks its charms to its typical village character. Moreover it stimulates the trade and provides a platform to the members.

19thof September: 7pm – press preview and drink with the participants (pleas confirm your presence before the 9thof September)
20thof September: 5pm till 11pm (preview – invitation only)
21th and 22th of September: 11am till 8pm
23th of September: 11am till 5pm

MasterArt made an application(search for ‘masterart’ in the App Store) with a practical overview of all the participating galleries, divided by speciality. The app contains also a map of the neighbourhood, which makes it easy to understand where each gallery is situated.


Tom Desmet – 0475/37.60.50
Elien Haentjens – 0485/536.239

The favourite objects of our six ambassadors

1. Maryem van den Heuvel – ambassador for the Netherlands in Belgium
As the ambassador for the Netherlands in Belgium, Maryem van den Heuvel is constantly engaged in connecting. "Hereby art and culture is an ideal tool. Thanks to their international language, they connect people across borders. My parents took me myself to exhibitions and museums at a young age. The love for visual art then arose and grew further over the years. I think it is a privilege to be able to be in contact with the Belgian and Dutch arts sector, which is in full bloom in both countries. During Brussels Art Square, the best Dutch and Belgian galleries meet at the Sablon. I look forward to seeing the result of this cross-pollination."

Bust of a young girl, Paul Delvaux, pencil, watercolour and ink, 1966 at Douwes Fine Art
"As a mother of five daughters I am of course attracted to portraits of girls, like this beautiful work by one of my favourite Belgian artists. Often the work of Paul Delvaux is mysterious and inscrutable. It never gets boring. Until the beginning of this year, there was a large Delvaux exhibition in Rotterdam, which allowed the Dutch public to admire his work. "

Après le concert, Louis Thévénet, oil on canvas, 1911 at Kunsthandel Jacques Fijnaut
"The theme of this Thévénet painting really appeals to me. You feel the peace after the tension. Also the interesting composition, the beautiful colour pallet and the intriguing details make this work special. The black cat reminds me of our male Hippolyte, who is curious to watch and likes to listen when music is played at home. "

The presentation at the Temple and Simeon’s Song of Praise, circle of the Master of Hakendover, Brabant/Brussels, walnut, ca. 1420/30 at gallery Floris Van Wanroij
"Floris van Wanrooij has been a regular participant of Brafa in Brussels for several years now. This gave me the opportunity to get to know his collection better. In addition to impressive paintings, he owns a beautiful sculpture collection, which really touched me. This image also has that emotional quality: love, care and the solemnity of the moment, captured in wood by an (unknown) artist."

2. Pierre Marcolini – chocolatier and pastry chef
Chocolatier and pastry chef Pierre Marcolini deliberately choose the Brussels Sablon for his flagship store. "I love the atmosphere that radiates from the square. On the one hand it is very Brussels, but at the same time it has a national and international image. While the neighbourhood around the Grand Place is more commercially tinted, the Sablon exudes more class and sophistication. That DNA thanks the Sablon in the first instance to the antique dealers and the galleries. Every time I walk over the Sablon, my eye falls on objects and works of art that inspire me. Because that atmosphere fits my story, I have established my flagship store here. "

Paula Raiglot, Telis, acrylic on canvas, 2009 at S.R. Gallery
“The warm colours and the tactility of this canvas by the Brussels artist Paula Raiglot attract me immediately. Her expressive way of painting also fascinates me. Through the game of painting and repainting, the work also evokes a feeling of melancholy. Contemporary art must initially touch me emotionally. Otherwise it does not mean much to me. "

Composition with butterflies at Kerner-Finkelstein Gallery
"For me this work exudes pure poetry, and in that sense it also inspires me for my own creations. The blue morpho butterflies look like jewels that have been brought together one by one. Their colour palette and their almost graphic appearance touch me. "

Chinese lacquered bead box with lid, 17th/18thcentury at Lodder Asian Art
"The graphic aspect of this box immediately attracts my attention. Both the pure form and the fascinating decoration fascinate me. Although it looks like wood at first glance, this is a rare example of the so-called Xipi lacquer technique. In this process, different paint colours are applied on an uneven surface. Because the whole is polished, the different colours come back to life in an abstract pattern. This thorough attention to aesthetics is also important in my own work.”

3. Gert Voorjans – interior architect
Interior architect Gert Voorjans is known for his eclectic interiors, in which he brings together objects from different times, styles, continents and genres in an idiosyncratic manner. Just like in his brand-new collection of fabrics for the Thai specialist Jim Thompson, he likes to create contrast by playing with color, shape and texture. Although Voorjans lives and works in Antwerp, he regularly descends to the Brussels Sablon. "On a small area you will find many interesting pieces. The concentration of high-quality galleries makes the Sablon unique in Belgium and a reference abroad. At Sablon you can travel around the world through art. That diversity inspires me. "

Portrait of a three-year-old boy that holds a hat, Wybrand Simonsz. de Geest de Oudere, oil on panel, 1653 at gallery Floris Van Wanroij
"This, at first sight, classic portrait from the Dutch Golden Age looks a lot less common at a second glance. As the three-year-old boy is presented as a proud warrior, he radiates a certain degree of maturity. The artist was a wayward man. While he lived in the seventeenth-century Protestant Netherlands, he remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps he has come to know it during his learning period with Abraham Bloemaert or his residence in Rome. "
"As a counterpart I chose the life-size version of the American cult figure Darth Vader at Kerner-Finkelstein Gallery. At the same time, they have more in common than you suspect. "

Darth Vader, Studio Ribies, 1997, limited edition at Kerner-Finkelstein Gallery
"This life-sized figure of Darth Vader was made on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of his first film appearance in 1977. As a typical American film and pop-cult example of an antagonist, this image at first glance contrasts sharply with the portrait of the three-year-old boy that can be seen at gallery Floris Van Wanroij. On the one hand, the combination of these works creates an interesting field of tension. The innocence and naivety of the three-year-old child contrast with the dark and the evil that Darth Vader represents. On the other hand, they have more in common than one would think: the child who already radiates certain maturity and a warrior attitude, while the character of Darth Vader as a young man was still 'in the light' and gradually felt drawn to the 'Dark Force'. Or how pure pop art and art from the Dutch Golden Age can enter into dialogue with each other.”

4. Fien Muller – designer and photographer
Fien Muller is a photographer and designer, who runs with her husband Hannes the well-known design studio Muller Van Severen. Since she’s a kid art and antiques always surrounded her. Not only her grandparents ran an antique shop, but almost her entire family – uncles, aunts, nieces, cousins and her brother - are antique dealers, and her father is an artist. "As a child, it was obvious to me to grow up in such an artistic environment. Only later I realized it was an enormous privilege. Currently everything can inspire me, from art and architecture to crafts and the landscape to even kitsch. Everything that expresses passion and love fascinates me. That is why I sometimes like to go to the Brussels Sablon. The antique dealers do their work with passion, and the atmosphere is pleasing.”

Sculpture of a seated cat, Late Period Egypt (ca. 664-525 BC) at Harmakhis
"If you see this little bronze statuette that is only thirteen centimetres high, you immediately feel that there is a huge history behind it. At the same time it looks very contemporary. A work, which plays with time, fascinates me. Moreover, in my discovery, I like to guide myself through my feeling and instinct, because unlike my family I have no great knowledge. "

Headdress Rikhbaktsa tribe Brazil at Kerner-Finkelstein Gallery
"I find it very nice to see how ingenious this headdress is put together, and the use of materials and the colour combinations inspire me. Moreover, you can fantasize a lot. When I see this object, a whole new world immediately reveals itself. How indigenous tribes live, like the Rikhbaktsa live in the rainforest in the Brazilian state of Matto Grosso, intrigues me. "

Triptych with Madonna and Child, Flemish school, circa 1550, oil on panel at Klaas Muller Antiques
"The theme of a mother with her child always appeals to me because I recognize certain emotions in it. I also love triptychs. They have something very sculptural and abstract. Moreover the contrast between the panel with the figures, which depicts a story, and the one with the graphical, almost contemporary-looking letters affects me. These small but beautiful Maria Lactans can be seen in the gallery of my brother Klaas, who specializes in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century masters. "

5. Gerald Watelet – interior architect
As an interior architect Gerald Watelet loves ecclestism. “At home, but also in my work I mingle all different time periods, cultures and styles through each other. Nothing stops me or makes me afraid. In this sense I’m the complete opposite of for example Victor Horta, who considered the exterior and interior as one stylistic whole. To me architecture and interior architecture are two completely different worlds. While architects work more strictly, we as an interior architect bring more joy and sensuality in the home. Thanks to its rich offer the Sablon always inspires me for my interiors, in which all objects interact with each other.

Sculpture, Robert De Winne, plaster, circa 1950 at Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh
“I love this piece for its raw side in its form, the softness of the material plaster and the warmth of the hues of its patina. You want to look at the work, and at some points even touch it. It’s really important to feel pleasure touching objects.”

Headdress Rikhbaktsa-tribe Brazil at Kerner-Finkelstein Gallery
“I like the decorative aspect of this work, which was worn during ceremonies but also in daily life. The feathers and their colours evoke joy, sensuality and a certain sense of musicality which immediately evokes the Brazilian atmosphere. You immediately want to touch the softness.”

Roman torso, marble, first century before Christ at Grusenmeyer-Woliner
“This sculpture is at the same time strong and soft, even sensual, and it’s made in a noble but cold material, namely marble. This object is attractive by its presence, that of a body or at least part of it. To see and touch, and in this case, to caress.”

6. Stéphane Cauchies – art advisor
As an art advisor Stéphane Cauchies assists his customers with the purchases and sales of their collection, but also with its management and conservation. That’s why he can be found regularly at the Brussels Sablon. “I love the diversity of the Sablon, and also the quality of the shops, restaurants, and, of course the antique dealers and art galleries. As a child I regularly visited the antique market with my parents during the weekend, and I still like it. There’s an atmosphere that is very lively on one hand, and at the same time a bit independent of time.”

The wrestlers, after the antique model at the Italian Uffizi, bronze, circa 1800 at Desmet Gallery
“This sculpture fascinates me because of the various meanings that lie behind it. First, it lets us reflect on our link with Greek, Roman and finally Italian art from the Renaissance. In addition it shows the evolution of our knowledge. For example, I find the archaeological discoveries from sixteenth century Italy fascinating. The sculpture allows us to travel through both time and history. Finally, the perfect control of matter makes this sculpture strong.”

Sawik, Norton Sound Alaska, 19thcentury at Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh
“This choice is linked to my passion for the art of the original nations, and in particular those for the Indians from Canada and the North, such as the Inuit. Special about this ceremonial knife is the blade of jade from Alaska, which has a very beautiful colour and which shows a formally very simple elegance. Jade is one of my favourite materials. That’s why I collect small old Chinese objects out of jade. This object thus unites my two passions: the culture of the indigenous people of the North and jade.”