Brussels Gallery Weekend speaks with Gallerist Greta Meert
BGW: Can you tell us a about the history of the gallery?
GM: The gallery is located in the center of Brussels and has been working for over 30 years with renowned international artists. The three stories, Art Nouveau industrial building makes it possible to maintain an expanded exhibition schedule.
BGW: Can you describe your gallery program, what types of shows have you presented?
GM: In 1988, Galerie Greta Meert opened with Thomas Struth’s ﬁrst international showing followed by exhibitions with Robert Mangold, Richard Tuttle, Louise Lawler, John Baldessari and Hanne Darboven. In 1992, the gallery presented Isa Genzken’s early sculptures and started to show the work of Donald Judd. These ﬁrst exhibitions demonstrate the gallery’s aim to bring forth the work of these innovative artists at a time when they were still relatively unknown in Belgium. From the very beginning, one of the main focuses of the gallery has been on Minimal and the Conceptual Art. The signiﬁcance of photography in conceptual strategies has also been a substantial interest in the programming of the gallery throughout the years. As early as 1991, Galerie Greta Meert was one of the ﬁrst European galleries to show artists such as Ian Wallace, Jeﬀ Wall and Ken Lum who have collectively been referred to as the Vancouver School. During the 1990s and early 2000 the program was further developed around the work of artists like Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Jef Geys, Peter Joseph, Shirley Jaﬀe, Sol LeWitt, Jean-Luc Moulène, Fred Sandback, Niele Toroni, Didier Vermeiren and Michael Venezia. Concurrently, the gallery has played an important role in the rediscovery of an older generation of Italian artists who had been eclipsed by the Arte Povera movement. These artists notably include Carla Accardi, Gianfranco Baruchello, Enrico Castellani and Mimmo Jodice.
BGW: What’s planned for upcoming shows?
GM: In more recent years the gallery has become committed to a younger generation of Belgian and international artists whose work builds on the gallery’s distinctive artistic identity and historical standpoint. We have a group show planned focussed on painting during Brussels Gallery Weekend, after that we will present two shows by Belgian artists, Sophie Nys and Koen Van den Broek.
BGW: What are the speciﬁcities and strengths of Brussels’ contemporary art scene according to you?
GM: Over the past few years Brussels has developed into an international go-to place for artists, curators and gallerists. Its central location and easy connections to other cities, the reasonable living costs, a high concentration of private collectors and a broad audience make the city an interesting place to be in terms of contemporary art. There is something both very aesthetic and very brutal about Brussels. And that is mirrored in the arts. This combination produces a very speciﬁc atmosphere, a dynamic perspective.
BGW: What are your thoughts on the new forms of galleries emerging in Brussels?
GM: The new forms of collaborating gallerists and curators seem promising. At the Art Brussels fair a new section was installed called ‘invited’ to highlight these new initiatives such as La Maison des Rendez-Vous and Paid by the artist. It has become diﬃcult for small and midsize galleries to survive although they are necessary to the contemporary art scene. They have an important role in supporting and introducing young artists to this scene. By organising themselves in a collaborative way, the platform to show these young artists gets extended internationally and costs are shared and reduced.
BGW: To your experience, what diﬀerentiates “weekends” from art fairs?
GM: Art fairs provide a platform to introduce your artists in the international market. It has become necessary to show the work of your artists in this context. However, at art fairs there is an overload of impulses, it becomes challenging to engage with the art. Art weekends encourage to keep going to galleries, to look and learn in depth about the art and the artist. You see more traﬃc on these weekends, people visit the gallery more, which translates into deeper relationships that support the artist and the gallery.
BGW: What is most important to you in taking part in an event like a Gallery Weekend?
GM: The annual Brussels Gallery Weekend announces the start of the new year for all galleries in Brussels, After the summer break, a lot of people are on the move through the city and you reach a wider audience that comes to see the exhibitions. Everybody opens at the same time and that creates a synergy, it’s a moment where the whole city buzzes with contemporary art.
/ thanks to Daphne Caritos and Brussels Gallery Weekend
Brussels Gallery Weekend speaks with the Chateau Nour
BGW: Can you tell us a little about your background and how did the Chateau Nour project was initiated? How and when did it all start?
CN: Beside each of us having develop our own identity and ways of working, we all have a strong and long time presence grass rooted in the Brussels Art scene.
(Komplot has started his activities in 2002 and reshaped over the year in 3 different Brussels’ locations, Clovis XV, in Schuman neighborhood, has organized in-house exhibitions since 2014; mosso, creative platform to support exchanges in between Global South & Europe, is active since 2014; Rectangle in between 2012-2017, has presented numerous projects on his outdoor billboard in St Gilles; In the same district SUPERDEALS has opened since 2014 a project room and offer short term artist residency. ) The Château Nour adventure has started in early 2018 with Komplot’s public space project, which was already engaged in the Cureghem neighborhood, then they invited Mosso for a joint venture. Later on, Clovis XV expressed their desire to search for a new space and to federate with SUPERDEALS and Rectangle. After one year of negotiation with the social housing department we finally obtain a two floors space and a vitrine, in the former hair Salon Nour, located near a collective garden. This specific location, in a multicultural district, was a point of attraction for all of us gathered in Château Nour, and also challenging as less identify on the usual “art cartography” of Brussels.
BGW: We know that the Chateau Nour project is a collaborative project between the nonprofit spaces Clovis XV, Komplot, Mosso, Rectangle and SUPERDEALS. How is it to run a space with such a diversity of visions?
CN: No secret recipe here. It’s a balance to find, adjust and negotiate. At the same time we are drawing some guidelines that will help us harmonizing the burden of all the admin and logistics and thus be more free, curious and able to dedicate most of our time to the artistic program. We are exciting to approach this collaboration as a research. An ongoing experiment by putting in common space, knowledge, practice, resources, skills which will take us, all together and individually, to a new journey in our curating – art making practices. We are very curious to discover each other proposals and looking forward to addressing this new dynamic, where the identity of our 5 associations can mingle and not be branded as a label. This balance will be reflected within the organization of our own projects and the creation of specific moments of collaboration between the residents. We aim to privilege those research moments to become public.
BGW: Can you discuss the exhibition program ? What’s the specificity of Chateau Nour? Residency & exhibition, workshop and more…
CN: For each of us, an exhibition program elaborates differently, some are working with an annual programme, and some others have a more spontaneous programme, mainly shaped by encounters and the flexibility of their agenda.
One of the pluses of Château Nour premise is our new renovated two bedrooms residency, along a shared–office room and our vitrine/exhibition space. The residency (for artists, curators, …) will allow space and time for their research and a public restitution. The stay of the residents from the different associations can overlap and generate collaboration, discussion, and unexpected projects.
Aside the exhibition & residency schedule we also would like to keep our doors open to other forms of collaborations, by offering carte blanche to various actors of the field. We also want to engage more at an international level and host foreign artists (or collective) for longer residency period (1-2 months). They could you use the exhibition space as a working studio, eventually ending their stay by an invitation of their choices (exhibition, screening, talk, workshop,…)
We do not want to be limited by a classical ‘’exhibition format” but showing and questioning other ways to program art forms. Interdisciplinary and participative projects will be our focus. In that sense, the specific setting of Château Nour opens the discussion in between the neighborhood, the other residents, the collective garden, the other local activities, …
BGW: How do you place yourself in the Brussels Art Scene?
CN: As a collective of collectives: A gathering of artists run spaces (Rectangle, Clovis XV, SUPERDEALS) and curators run spaces (Komplot and mosso) aiming at collaborating together and hosting others projects/persons in one place, meant to be a platform for cooperation between artists, curators and non-artistic groups.
BGW: What are the specificities and strengths of Brussels’ contemporary art scene according to you?
CN: It’s a constellation of smaller spaces and larger institutions. They provide a fluid and wide offer but remain mainly based either on the model of an institutional and /or commercial wealthy culture consumption, either relying on investment from private donors, which are opening foundations. The general power and economical dynamic are slowly changing of hands in some other fields but we must keep on questioning the classical structure of programming in the contemporary arts and seek for more ethical and sustainable ways.
BGW: How does a project like Château Nour reinvent the traditional gallery model?
CN: We are not looking at challenging the gallery model. Other alternative models can co-exist and Château Nour wants to set down in this diversity of proposals.
As curators and artists we care for the environment and how this specific context fuelled and influenced our perception and creativity. The specific urban & social landscape of Cureghem, layered with diversity, will be our main source of inspiration and field of experiments. Château Nour’s location, in an area of Brussels which is not yet very developed in terms of artistic and cultural offers, is at the same time a strength and a challenge that we must meet. Without being naïve, it is important for us, to make contemporary art, part of the common and facilitate its access to the local inhabitants.
Fall Schedule 2019….
Art Weekend São Paulo is our newest weekend partner. The Art Weekend is organized by Latitudes (Platform for Brazilian Art Galleries Abroad) and ABACT (Brazilian Association of Contemporary Art)
November 9 – 10, 2019
Gallery Weekend Mexico City
SAVE THE DATE:
September 5 – 8 , 2019
Warsaw Gallery Weekend
SAVE THE DATE:
September 21– 23 , 2019
Barcelona Gallery Weekend
10 – 13 October, 2019
Melbourne Gallery Weekend
Save the Date:
October 11 – 13 , 2019
Lisbon Art Weekend is our new partner in Portugal.
November 15-17, 2019
visit lisbonartweekend.com for more information
GalleryWeekend.Org is an umbrella group of independent weekends, art fairs and contemporary art associations from around the globe.