INSIGHTS | tegenboschvanvreden, winner of the DISCOVERY Prize 2019

Art Brussels aims to support the younger scene, and to help achieve that, in 2013, we established a prize, awarded annually on opening day to the gallery that has made the most original and engaging presentation in the DISCOVERY section of the fair.

The winners of the 2019 Discovery Prize were selected by a jury including the following: Tessa Giblin (Director, Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London/Senior Artistic Advisor, The Shed, New York), Hélène Vandenberghe (Director, Philippe Vandenberg Foundation, Brussels/Advisor, The Institute for Artists’ Estates, Berlin).

For the 37th edition of Art Brussels in 2019, the jury decided to present the award to two galleries in DISCOVERY: Nome, with a solo presentation by artist duo Goldin+Senneby, and tegenboschvanvreden, with Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen.

The second part of this INSIGHTS focuses on the winner of the DISCOVERY Prize at Art Brussels 2019. We spoke with Pietje Tegenbosch and Martin van Vreden, owners of tegenboschvanvreden, who received the award for their presentation of work by Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen.

How was the experience for tegenboschvanvreden at Art Brussels?
Participating in Art Brussels was again a positive experience. The international focus of the fair was an opportunity to meet new collectors and curators. Expanding the network of the gallery is of course one of the main objectives of participation. Winning the prize was an amazing experience: we were really surprised by the impact. The reactions, from other galleries as well, were extremely supportive. For the artists – who were present at the fair – it meant a lot of extra attention and interesting meetings with visitors.

What was the focus of your presentation at Art Brussels?
A constant factor throughout the multidisciplinary work of Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen is their fascination with human behaviour, the coded structures within it, the influence of time, place and socio-economic structures on human relationships, physiognomy and body language. Their work departs from the notion that people are essentially always playing a role. Sculptures almost become persons and function as performers in a both realistic and imaginary theatre of the commonplace. The gestures are based on observations in public spaces, such as art fairs. Breure & Van Hulzen take on doing nothing as a state of being in which an idea can be born and something new can arise. “Mees” is sitting on the dishwasher, doing nothing. “Chris” leans against the wall with his headphones. Whether these time-outs are just for a short time or a fundamental decision not to participate in the system is not immediately clear. These figures seem – after the famous example of Bartleby, the office clerk from a short story by Melville who, one day, when asked to do the umpteenth job, refuses, saying “I prefer not to” – to step out of their role to seek confrontation with themselves.

How did you discover Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen?
Sander Breure and Witte van Hulzen both live and work in Amsterdam. Breure graduated from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and Van Hulzen from Artez in Arnhem (NL). We first saw their work in the graduation show at Artez, where Van Hulzen graduated with a video work made by the two of them, as a duo. They had already been collaborating, focussing on theatre, performance and video work. During his studies at the art academy, Van Hulzen was also a trainee at Jan Fabre’s theatre company. The work of Van Hulzen and Breure is based on research on body language and its interpretation. When we first saw the work, we were attracted by their experimental and innovative approach to subjects related to the condition humaine.

What other current or upcoming projects by Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen are you excited about?
Winning the DISCOVERY Prize at Art Brussels is part of the positive flow of the work of Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen. As we speak, there is a comprehensive solo presentation by Breure & Van Hulzen on view at Marres in Maastricht (through 4 August, 2019), with the title The Floor is Lava. A book on this project will be presented at Marres. Just before Art Brussels, it was announced that Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen had been nominated for the Prix de Rome, the most important prize for contemporary art in Holland. The nominees will have a solo presentation in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam from 19 October onwards, for six months.

Do you have any advice for young, aspiring art collectors?
The most important advice to young art collectors is to go and see as many shows as possible, to do research and collect information on artists they are interested in, and to buy art with their eyes and heart.

Sander Breure & Witte van Hulzen, views of tegenboschvanvreden booth at Art Brussels 2019

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