Brussels based artistic community, La peau de l’ours, is dedicated to helping art-lovers begin their collecting journey. So it’s no surprise that they want to give new collectors a voice. To bring this intent to life, at Affordable Art Fair Brussels (11 - 13 September, Tour & Taxis), La peau de l’ours are creating a special exhibition featuring works by four emerging artists – and in a ground-breaking move they have invited five young collectors to curate the exhibition.
“How it all began” will be a multi-disciplinary exhibition featuring artworks by four emerging artists whose works explore the genesis of the creative process. The artists invited to participate are: Dorian Cohen, Olivia Descampe, Safia Hijos and Ania Zuber. And it is the works of these artists that will be curated by a selection of young collectors.
Introducing Laura and Alexandre, Sophie and Aubry, and Lazlo five young collectors who purchased their first piece of art at Affordable Art fair, selecting works by emerging artists from the prior La peau de l’ours exhibitions. Having taken this exciting leap, Laura, Alexandre, Sophie, Aubry and Lazlo have been invited back, to take centre stage and represent the voices of young collectors by curating the “How it all began” exhibition.
La peau de l’ours met with the young collectors in their homes, to find out more about why they are drawn to collecting contemporary art, and to see the works they own in situ in their homes. Read on for more…
“HOW IT ALL BEGAN”: MEET THE YOUNG COLLECTORS
Laura and Alexandre
Laura and Alexandre invited La peau de l’ours to their flat in Ixelles, Belgium. Both have been visiting the Affordable Art Fair for the past few years, where they first met the La peau de l’ours team, at the Art & Beyond exhibition in 2019. In the past, the couple have mainly visited exhibitions in museums and art centres, but not art galleries. For Laura and Alexandre, Art Fairs have been an entry point into the world of galleries.
In 2019, they had not set-out with the intention to take an artwork home, but during their visit to the fair they changed their minds when they came across the work of French artist Benjamin Ottoz. When asked what they enjoy about the Affordable Art Fair, they said it was the accessible nature of the fair and the relaxed atmosphere.
“I found it interesting that the Art & Beyond exhibition was curated in a multidisciplinary way, with a refined scenography that presented different formats” says Laura.
Alexandre appreciated being able to ask La peau de l’ours about the works on display, saying, “They did not try to sell the works, just played the role of mediator between ourselves and the art. For me, deciding to acquire a work is an act of engagement. It’s therefore important to personally value the work of an artist. The owner needs to be someone who can defend it.”
The artwork that caught their attention was an acrylic on paper by Benjamin Ottoz which has found a perfect home in their apartment. A little later, following a visit to the gallery, they also purchased a work by collagist Olivia Descampe, who La peau de l’ours also exhibited at the fair last year.
Sophie and Aubry
Sophie and Aubry, both lawyers by trade, welcomed La peau de l’ours to their home on an Autumn evening, where they discussed the start of their collecting journey over a glass of wine in their candlelit apartment. The couple see themselves less as collectors, and more as contemplators: “It’s less dangerous”, Sophie laughed. “To collect suggests a quest for an object, but we tend to purchase art in the spur of the moment, driven by an emotional reaction to a piece” Aubry explained.
In fact, it was literature that led Aubry to the doors of art galleries and exhibitions. He says “Both literature and art have a pure narrative. They sharpen your feelings, visuals and aesthetics. And their spirit is reinforced by dialogue and discussion. Both are created in line with a common reference system: beauty.”
It also seemed the couple’s connection through art was fated, as during Sophie’s first visit to the Affordable Art Fair she was drawn to the artwork Onomatopoeia by Franco-American artist Cadine Navarro. Sophie saw the piece in the Young Talents exhibition created by La peau de l’ours in 2018. “Later, when I met Aubry, I was surprised to discover he had the work Onomatopoeia hung on his living room wall!” “It definitely cemented my crush!” Aubry laughed.
At Affordable Art Fair Brussels, the couple appreciate multitude of arts in a relaxed setting “It is a bit like strolling around the library. We like to contemplate and appreciate the works, and sometimes offer them a home” says Aubry. Sophie agrees “The Affordable Art Fair has become a meeting place for our friends, it’s an annual event that we don’t want to miss.”
Together they chose an acrylic on canvas titled Arriba by Julie Susset, again selected from the Art & Beyond exhibition, curated by La peau de l’ours last year.
In his Brussels apartment, Lazlo explained to La peau de l’ours that he was first made aware of art by his creative parents. Since then he has developed a more particular interest in contemporary art by visiting exhibitions in Belgium and during his travels abroad. Lazlo has been attending the Affordable Art Fair for several years now, first out of curiosity and then very quickly in order to acquire works of his own.
The Affordable Art Fair appeals to him because of its accessible nature and because the subject of price is not taboo, as in some, less approachable, galleries. Instinctively, he is immediately drawn to particular pieces, and says that he is attracted to what is, as Charles Pepin would say, works with non-superficial beauty. Talking about the presentation by La peau de l’ours, Lazlo said “I particularly appreciated the eclectic approach of the artworks and the opportunity to meet the artists, that made all the difference to me.”
Lazlo left with an acrylic on arches paper entitled "Serendipity 18PF OB" by Benjamin Ottoz.
We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting the group of young Brussels collectors. With this unique approach, merging the art collecting and curatorial processes, the team of collectors/curators and La peau de l’ours are sure to deliver a fascinating exhibition at the fair. To find out more about the participating emerging artists, Dorian Cohen, Olivia Descampe, Safia Hijos and Ania Zuber, click here.
Plus, don’t forget to purchase your ticket to join us at Affordable Art Fair Brussels (11 - 13 September, Tour & Taxis) and see these emerging artist’s works close-up, within the collector’s curatorial framework.
With thanks to La peau de l’ours for the above interviews.
Lazlo in his home, speaking to Thomas Ghaye, one of the founders of La peau de l’ours.
Featured art from first to last:
Laura and Alexandre in their Brussels flat, with one of their works by Benjamin Ottoz in the background.
Artwork by Olivia Descampe hanging in Laura and Alexandre's home.
Sophie and Aubry with their colourful painting by Julie Susset.
Artwork by Cadine Navarro, purchased by Sophie and Aubry at Affordable Art Fair Brussels.
Lazlo speaking to Thomas Ghaye with artwork by Benjamin Ottoz in the background.