On the runway to BRAFA (Brussels Antiques and Art Fair) 2015, which starts on January 24th, we should first have a look at the highlights of BRAFA 2014.
I am not controversial if I state that the lecture by Belgian art guru Axel Vervoodt last year was a masterclass on living aesthetically. It lasts 39 minutes, every second with a revelation, but I will provide you with a personal summary, always quicker and more synthetic than watching the whole video.
Although obvious, I have not yet elaborated in this blog on why living aesthetically does not mean becoming a fashion victim. In the video, Axel underlines that he enjoys art in every moment of his life, not exclusively through luxury but creating an artistic atmosphere in every moment. As he declares, every fashion is momentary but Art cannot be. If we decide to live aesthetically we should therefore discover the beauty in every style and epoch. Consequently, antiques are not valuable because of their age but due to their extraordinary character which has made them survive fashions and even lifestyles. Although the Belgian art dealer is world famous for his modern art galleries and his antique shops he does not find a substantial difference between the old and the contemporary. In fact, he looks for the sense of beauty we deal with today in antique pieces of art and furniture and through his personal combination everything becomes astonishingly contemporary. Besides, reminding us he is a businessman, he asserts that it is cheaper to mix antiques and contemporary art of the same quality due to the high prices of the latter.
I can’t assure that Axel Verdoodt is a keen ruskinian, although he is extremely knowledgeable in philosophy and aesthetics, but he is exactly on the same wavelength that the inspirer of this blog regarding restorations. Ruskin thought that restoration was destruction:
“You may make a model of a building as you may of a corpse, and your model may have the shell of the old walls within it as your cast might have the skeleton, with what advantage I neither see nor care: but the old building is destroyed, and that more totally and mercilessly than if it had sunk into a heap of dust, or melted into a mass of clay: more has been gleaned out of desolated Nineveh than ever will be out of re-built Milan. But, it is said, there may come a necessity for restoration! Granted. Look the necessity full in the face, and understand it on its own terms. It is a necessity for destruction. Accept it as such, pull the building down, throw its stones into neglected corners, make ballast of them, or mortar, if you will; but do it honestly, and do not set up a Lie in their place. And look that necessity in the face before it comes, and you may prevent it. The principle of modern times… is to neglect buildings first, and restore them afterwards. Take proper care of your monuments, and you will not need to restore them.”
The living room of his house in Antwerpen
Let’s respect and admire our heritage in BRAFA 2015!