Creating an art fair is labour of love; a year-long project where the careful selection of the perfect galleries and artists is of paramount importance, each logistical detail must be carefully considered and arranged. Plus, a unique experiential programme must be created from scratch, with the sole purpose of creating a wow-worthy experience for the 1000’s of visitors. You may well ask, “Who would dare take on this challenge?!”
Well, to answer this very question – we sat down with Geraldine Hubot, Fair Director and Louise Malfait, Fair Manager of Affordable Art Fair Brussels (11 - 13 September, Tour & Taxis) to learn all about their passion for creating the art fair which attracts over 17,000 visitors each year.
MEET THE AFFORDABLE ART FAIR BRUSSELS TEAM
Hi Geraldine, Louise, can you tell us how and when you joined Affordable Art Fair Brussels?
Geraldine Hubot: At university, I studied marketing and communications, after which I worked for a PR agency where the Affordable Art Fair was one of my clients! After four years as a press agent, I felt it was time for me to discover other things, so I moved to live in Budapest for a year. I learned a lot about myself and on returning I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. So, I posted on Facebook (yes, Facebook!) where the Affordable Art Fair Team proposed that I join them as Fair Manager! I immediately jumped on the opportunity, and that was more than five years ago. Since then I have become a Mum and the Director of the Brussels fair.
Louise Malfait: I started studying art at a very young age, doing my high school degree in architectural education at LUCA school of art in Ghent, my hometown. Later, after graduating with a degree in Communications Management, I had some great internships at Sophie Carrée (a press and communications agency) and Base Design (a branding agency) before joining the Affordable Art Fair team as intern. I immediately fell in love with the concept and saw huge potential and an exciting challenge in developing the fair to a high level in terms of quality – so I was delighted to be offered the role of Fair Manager. Organising my 5th edition this year, I‘m still as excited today as when I joined as an intern…
When did you discover your passion for art?
GH: That’s funny, because I asked myself the same question not long ago. I have a memory of being in our family living room, where there was always the book ‘Andy Warhol A Retrospective’ published by the MoMA. I must have been 10 years old when I first flipped through it. I was fascinated by the colours, the designs and the drawings that I tried to reproduce myself.
LM: I come from an artistic family, where art, architecture and design are very much appreciated. My mother had a huge cultural influence on me. She took me everywhere, from museums, exhibitions, operas, ballets, to architectural and art Biennales abroad. Those passions still run through my veins and I have always said, “I don’t want to be the artist, I want to represent or work with artists”. This is probably also the reason why I came straight back into the art world after graduating.
What are your thoughts on supporting young artists?
GH: This is an extremely important subject, as many young artists don’t have the chance to show their work. The art market can be a difficult environment, which causes talented young artists to give up because of support or finances. The Young Talent exhibition at Affordable Art Fair Brussels gives young artists a platform to exhibit their works in a space that is entirely dedicated to them.
LM: Our Emerging Talent programme is designed for artists who are not yet represented by a gallery where they have the opportunity to be in contact with art galleries, collectors and professionals from the art world. It provides them with an opportunity to progress in the world of art and reach their full potential. Personally, I started my art collection at 23 years old, which mainly contains work by emerging artists that I’ve fallen in love with – so it’s a passion of mine too.
Who is the most memorable contact you’ve made in the art world?
LM: In the art world there are new and important encounters every single day. I don’t think that one encounter is more important than another; for me it is the whole network that is important as the network will lead to new encounters too. This is essential to keeping the art fair fresh.
GH: Before working for the Affordable Art Fair, I had the chance to work on a project with the Belgian artist Jean-Luc Moerman. It was my first encounter with an artist. I immediately adored his painting style, which is like a tattoo with lines that interweave and cross. I love that his designs are on canvasses, photos, stuffed animals, walls in homes, plus the bright colours… In short, as Jean-Luc said himself;
“It goes off in all directions!”
What is your favourite memory of organising an Affordable Art Fair?
LM: My best memory is the same every year, it’s that moment when you see the entire fair rising from nothing into the final “product”. After working for a year and pouring blood, sweat and tears into building something to wow every single visitor, gallerist and partner. It’s such a fulfilling moment when you notice happy faces and smiles at the Vernissage.
GH: I agree, the rush of adrenaline when the entire team is on their walkie-talkies waiting for my “GO” to signal the opening of the Fair. There’s nothing like it!
How exciting! So when the fair is complete, what do you do in your free time?
GH: With two young children, I have much less free time than I used to. I try to spend as much time as possible with my family. At the weekends, we cook together, read, we take walks and often take the car to wander around Antwerp.
LM: My favourite thing I do in my spare time is to travel abroad, discovering new art fairs, shops and cultural spaces, going to gallery openings and exhibition previews, meeting people and socialising. I love making new friends and spending time with the old ones. To me, it’s all about the experience and the moments we share... maybe that’s why I love the Affordable Art Fair so much?
What a lovely insight into the organisers of Affordable Art Fair Brussels, we can see how their dedication and passion for the fair leads to such an exciting event! Meet Geraldine and Louise at the fair, where they’ll be welcoming you 11 - 13 September, Tour & Taxis. Follow the link below to snap up your tickets and take advantage of the advance ticket prices.
Geraldine Hubot, Fair Director for Affordable Art Fair Brussels is interviewed by the press.
Featured art from first to last:
Louise Malfait, Fair Manager and Geraldine Hubot, Fair Director of Affordable Art Fair Brussels. Image courtesy of La peau de l'ours.
An aerial shot of Affordable Art Fair Brussels 2019.
The Emerging Artist exhibition at Affordable Art Fair Brussels 2019, titled Art & Beyond.
The Galerie p13 stand at Affordable Art Fair Brussels, 2019.
The Artelli Gallery stand at Affordable Art Fair Brussels, 2019.