True, it has always had its particular focal points derived from the traditional strengths of the Belgian market – early sculpture and works of art (known as Haute Epoque) and tribal art are well represented.
But you can also find European ceramics, Art Deco, Modern and Contemporary art antiquities, classic furniture and plenty of 19th century painting and sculpture by Belgian and international artists.
Sixteen new names
This year 133 exhibitors take part, of which 16 are newcomers. “With 16 new names we are consistent with the previous editions,” says BRAFA chairman Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke, “and from my point of view this is an ideal percentage. It means we are able to bring in novelty without calling into question the internal equilibrium among the various specialities and without shaking everything up.”
As an event that started 64 years ago as the showcase for Belgian antiques dealers, a strong showing from the home country has always been a feature. The French trade for whom Brussels is but a short hop is also well represented.
UK exhibitors used to be fairly thin on the ground but there is an increase this year with four newcomers: Bowman Sculpture, David Aaron with antiquities, the Cortesi Gallery with post-war European art and the Willow Gallery with Impressionist and Modern art.
They join long-standing British exhibitors such as Mullany, Finch and Co and Whitford Fine Art to swell the number of UK galleries to 14.
Germany, Switzerland and Italy are among the other countries featured. From the US, Rosenberg with Impressionist and Modern art is new this year. Phoenix Ancient Art brings antiquities and Gladstone Contemporary art also exhibits (based in Brussels and New York).
BRAFA opens to the public on January 26, running to February 3.
This event is very popular with local clientele although you will find plenty of visitors, both trade and private, from further afield as well. Last year 65,000 people came to the Tour & Taxis exhibition centre to visit the fair.
This year BRAFA also welcomes Gilbert & George as artistic guests of honour.
Pictured here is a small selection of what is on offer this year.