INSIGHTS | Helene Dumenil & Nicole O ‘Rourke (Ballon Rouge Collective)

As part of Art Brussels Insights, we spoke with Helene Dumenil and Nicole O ‘Rourke, cofounders of Ballon Rouge Collective about the concept of a nomadic gallery and the hub they recently opened in Brussels.

Can you introduce us to Ballon Rouge Collective and the concept of a nomadic gallery?
B.R.Collective is a nomadic gallery that started in September 2017. Over the past years it has put up exhibitions in Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Brussels, Sao Paulo, Paris, and New York. Each of the cities we visit is stewarded by a collective member whose vision we respect and whom we wanted to work with. They are our ambassador to their city and the curator of the show there. Each artist we represent travels with us, ultimately working with all of our collective members internationally. As we are a group of people working out of our own cities, Ballon Rouge Collective is not about one person’s taste. The nomadic model gives our emerging artists the opportunity to have solo exhibitions around the world – allowing them and us to break the mould of our localities and become more international at an early moment. Collectors who saw an exhibition in one city, start to follow our programme and engage with artists from other cities as well.

You’re opening a new hub in Brussels: B.R. Club. What drew you to Brussels?
I’ve lived here for three years and it felt like the next step to take for us. Like the Collective, B.R.Club will not function as a traditional gallery does, it will be a place for exchanges between international galleries. They will show their artists in our space and we will go to theirs and show our artists. This connects with our ethos of collaboration and expands our artist’s networks even more.

Why did you choose to open a space in downtown Brussels?
Downtown is a little less put together than the uptown area where the big galleries are, but it has real beauty and a lot of life, which suits us. We’re also happy to join those that have already settled in the area like dépendance, Office Baroque and Greta Meert.

What is the importance of being part of INVITED at Art Brussels 2019 for Ballon Rouge Collective?
We’re very excited to be part of Invited and that Art Brussels is taking this massive step for new gallery models. If new models are accepted in fairs it shows that the art world ecosystem is changing.

What will you be presenting at INVITED at Art Brussels 2019?
At the fair we will show new works by Merve Iseri and Philip Janssens. Merve is a young Turkish painter who lives and works in London, and Philip is a local in Brussels. Conceptually and aesthetically different, they are a good representation of our diverse roster of artists. What will unite them at the booth is simply the use of the colour black in recent series by each artist. Merve will have a solo exhibition running concurrently with the fair at B.R.Club in Brussels and Philip will have a solo exhibition at the non-profit MegaMelange in Cologne in May, so we are using the fair to also highlight these other special exhibitions for them.

Do you already have some favourite local places in Brussels you would recommend for people who will be here for Art Brussels 2019?
Downtown is packed with bars and shops. We love Isabelle Bajart for vintage clothes, Broceliande for vintage furniture selected by the owner who is so friendly and knowledgeable, and Bar du Canal for nice organic wine.

Do you have any advice for young, aspiring art collectors?
Buy what you like.

Images by order of appearance:
Helene Dumenil and Nicole O ‘Rourke in front of B.R.Club, Courtesy B.R.C.
– Installation view Club Inaugural, Courtesy B.R.C.
Merve Iseri, recover, 2018, oil, pastel, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 170 cm, Courtesy the artist and B.R.C.

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