Xavier Hufkens to open expanded gallery at historic flagship location in Brussels

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Xavier Hufkens to open expanded gallery at historic flagship location in Brussels
Opening 2 June 2022, the inaugural show will be a major exhibition of recent works in a wide range of media by American artist Christopher Wool.

BRUSSELS.- Marking its 35th anniversary, Xavier Hufkens announces the opening of its gallery at 6 rue St-Georges, its flagship location in Brussels, following a two-year transformation led by the Belgian architecture firm Robbrecht & Daem. The design transforms and extends the 19th-century townhouse opened by Hufkens in 1992, nearly tripling its exhibition space, and creating a range of light-filled spaces for the exhibition of contemporary art. One of three gallery spaces in Brussels, the renewed and expanded space at rue St-Georges affirms the gallery’s commitment to its home city and offers artists and visitors a destination for the art of our time in the heart of the Belgian capital.

Opening 2 June 2022, the inaugural show will be a major exhibition of recent works in a wide range of media by American artist Christopher Wool (b. 1955), curated by Anne Pontégnie, curator-at-large for Le Consortium (Dijon) and curator for the Cranford Collection (London), and long-time collaborator of Wool.

‘Every aspect of our new gallery stems from the vision to create an exceptional platform for our community of artists, many of whom made their start with us here in Brussels. In the 35 years since we opened our first gallery in a warehouse in the city centre, Brussels has flourished into a vibrant epicenter of contemporary art in Europe and internationally. This is a cultural heritage and creative community to which we are proud to belong and deeply committed. We hope that this new space will serve as a dynamic home for our gallery and our artists well into the future.’ — Xavier Hufkens

Designed by Paul Robbrecht’s internationally acclaimed team at Robbrecht & Daem architects, the new St-Georges gallery marks an exceptional expansion in surface, capacity, and logistical possibility. Spanning six stories, the building will encompass over 800 square meters (almost 9,000 square feet) of exhibition galleries, nearly tripling Xavier Hufkens’ existing exhibition space at this location.

The pre-existing floors of the gallery’s historic 19th-century townhouse will extend into the newly designed adjacent building, a cascade-like, monolithic volume of elegantly stacked concrete forms. In a delicate interplay between the large-scale proportions of the contemporary building and the more intimate rooms of the original maison de maître, the integrated design creates an effortless circulation while offering visitors a range of spatial experiences: staircases guide visitors through four floors of exhibition space, each with unique dimensions and light incidence. The 2,200-square-meter (nearly 24,000-square-foot) building will retain its outdoor exhibition space in the garden, renewed by the esteemed landscape architect Martin Wirtz, and in addition feature upgraded staff offices, a research library, and art-storage facilities. The durability of the building — completely energy independent and nearly entirely carbon-neutral — is reflected in its materialisation, concrete core activation, and effective use of geothermal and solar power.

Long-standing collaborators of the gallery, Robbrecht & Daem conceived the renovation of Xavier Hufkens’ original space at rue St-Georges, upon the gallery’s move into the historic townhouse in 1992. The space quickly gained a reputation for being one of Belgium’s most interesting places to see leading contemporary art, mounting exhibitions by emerging and established international artists. Xavier Hufkens would become the oldest gallery representative for several such artists, including Richard Artschwager, Thierry De Cordier, Jan Vercruysse, Louise Bourgeois, Roni Horn, and Thomas Houseago.

‘For the new St-Georges building, we were given the rare opportunity to reinterpret and quite literally expand our own architecture. In the early 1990s, we repurposed the existing maison de maître into a lively art gallery. Now, thirty years later, we opted for an architecture that epitomizes the site’s history and extends into a new adjoining building, an impressive concrete structure with a cascade-like form. Variations on light and proportion give each floor a distinct character, which will compel both artists and visitors. Transcending the traditional white cube, the new St-Georges gallery aims to be a destination that unites the old with the new, the intimate with the monumental.’ — Paul Robbrecht (Robbrecht & Daem architects)

On view from 2 June 2022, a comprehensive exhibition by Christopher Wool will inaugurate the new St-Georges building. Curated by Anne Pontégnie, collaborator of the artist for over 30 years, the exhibition brings together five bodies of works that illustrate Wool’s recent investigation in sculpture, works on paper, photography, and books, in addition to four new paintings, the first to come out of the artist’s studio in five years. Gathering more than fifty works created since 2018, the exhibition focuses on recent developments in Wool’s practice and the processes of reproduction employed by the artist across media, emphasising the circularity and coherence across his oeuvre. The first exhibition in Europe to showcase the full range of Wool’s work, it will employ the complete scale and design of Xavier Hufkens’ new building.

‘Through more than fifty works, this exhibition explores how reproduction is at the heart of Christopher Wool’s practice. It is a journey into Wool’s process and modes of thinking. He has never ceased to create challenging forms and to question his own practice. It is also the result of a thirty-year dialogue with the artist and a thirty-year friendship with Xavier Hufkens — a question of mutual trust. The new gallery’s scale and architecture offer the perfect setting to develop such a complex and dense project.’ — Anne Pontégnie (Curator of the exhibition)

The new St-Georges gallery will later this year host solo exhibitions by Joe Bradley and Nicolas Party, in autumn and winter respectively. Xavier Hufkens programs two exhibition spaces in Brussels in addition to its gallery at rue St-Georges: opened in 2013, the nearby space in the iconic Seventies-era Galerie Rivoli will host exhibitions by Cassi Namoda and on Frank Walter in spring and summer 2022, respectively. The third gallery on rue Van Eyck, opened in 2020, will mount important exhibitions by Thierry De Cordier in September and by McArthur Binion in November. Josh Smith’s Keyhole is currently on view across the gallery’s Van Eyck and Rivoli locations until 26 April 2022.

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