Charmed by Clay:
An Artist’s Take On Ceramic Brussels

Artist Rebeka Rácz visited the first edition of the Ceramic Brussels contemporary ceramics fair and took some honest notes.

As I walked into the bustling scene of Ceramic Brussels, the Belgian capital’s first international fair dedicated solely to contemporary ceramics, I was struck by a profound sense of reconnection. It was great to engage with ceramic art in its tangible form, a welcome change from the flat digital displays I had grown accustomed to. The physical presence of these objects, with their inviting textures and intricate details, reminded me why the medium’s tactility is so crucial.

The fair showcased a mix of over 50 galleries, each contributing to a vibrant celebration of both heritage and innovation within the ceramic arts. However, while boasting an international label, it predominantly featured French-speaking galleries or those based in the region, revealing a distinct Francophone influence amidst its diverse offerings.

While celebrating the resurgence of ceramics—a movement that began well before the early 2000s and gained significant momentum during the pandemic—the fair showcased and reflected how a seamless blend of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary aesthetics has found its way into personal spaces and public displays alike.

One of the fair’s highlights was in fact a whimsical display underscoring the fair’s theme of diversity and innovation in ceramic art. The work of Leo Luccioni, presented by the Parisian Romero Paprocki gallery, captivated the audience with life-sized, realistic gumdrop sculptures, scaled up fifteen times their original size. 

Equally compelling was the eclectic display by the Spaceless Gallery, which featured artists like Ruan Hoffmann. I’ve long admired Hoffmann’s work for its thoughtful incorporation of ancient textual styles into his pieces. Seeing his work in person was a grounding experience, connecting me to both historical and contemporary dialogues through the medium of clay.

As I mingled among the crowds, it was evident that the fair was more than just an exhibition; it was a vibrant meeting place of styles. The playful masks by Colonel & Spit presented by Alice Gallery for example, reflected the quirky individuality of the attendees.

The art prize section, a special enclave within the fair, showcased ten emerging artists selected from over 200 submissions from across Europe. The area served as a vibrant showcase of new talent, but with a dominant presence of French artists, further illustrating the fair’s overbearing Francophone orientation.

Among these emerging talents, the duo Vertigo, comprising Nitsa Meletopoulos and Victor Alarcon, captured attention with their innovative ceramic sculptures that appeared almost alien in their material mimicry, challenging traditional ceramic forms. 

Adjacent to Vertigo, Antoine Moulinard’s installation was a tour-de-force in both scale and complexity. His creation featured a life-sized, intricately sculpted ceramic fireplace, complete with an expressive anthropomorphic face, hands clutching flora, and charcoal-fired logs, 

The proximity of Moulinard’s elaborate camp-style installation to the minimalist, serene sculptures by Korean-born artist Inup Park underscored the diverse artistic dialogues at the fair. Park’s pieces, characterized by their earthy simplicity, seemed visually and thematically displaced next to Moulinard’s vibrant expression, creating a stark contrast that both challenged and enriched the viewer’s experience of the space.

Ceramic Brussels turned out to be an immersive experience that highlighted the tangible and expansive nature of ceramic art. Visitors like myself left with a renewed appreciation for the medium’s capacity to convey both artistic tradition and bold, contemporary visions. This event not only showcased the breadth of talent within the ceramics community but also affirmed the medium’s vibrant and evolving role in the art world.

Julien Pacaud: of gods and men

Rebeka Rácz is an artist living and working in Budapest, Hungary.

Images: 

Leo Luccioni, ©Allison Borgo Courtesy of Romero Paprocki and Ceramic Brussels
Colonel & Spit, Courtesy of Alice Gallery & Ceramic Brussel
Ruan Hoffman, Sorry Honey 2020, Courtesy of the Spaceless Gallery and Ceramic Brussels
Duo Vertigo, Série de fioles, Courtesy of Ceramic Brussels
Antoine Moulinard Cheminée Yéti, 2023 ©Lucille Briffaud Courtesy of Ceramic Brussels

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