Excitement built as we rounded the corner at the Sablon, the gallery district of Brussels, and walked along Rue Ernest Allard. The afternoon excursion marked the first time my husband and I had been out in the city center with the purpose of visiting art for a long while. Masked, and with plenty of hand sanitizer, we arrived at number 25: a recently renovated historic townhouse and home of the newest branch of Nino Mier Gallery in Brussels.
There was a small moment’s confusion when the door didn’t budge upon trying to enter, but I soon spotted a bell, and we were swiftly welcomed by Director Alexia Van Eyll. After establishing that it was our first visit, Ms. Van Eyll explained the space, spread over four floors, and provided us information about the inaugural exhibition, then on view. We learned that we were about to see works by more than thirty artists, including paintings and ceramics. I immediately got the sense that I could ask questions without hesitation here.
What struck me upon entering the gallery was the light. Large windows on the street side allow light to enter all levels of the building, including a small area just below street level. The entrance is a split level. Exposed stone and brick on the lower level, which continues up to the main floor, lends warmth to the space; the light cream tones of the walls and the large windows at both the front and back of the building make the space feel cozy and charming at first sight.
We started downstairs, in the alcove space, where we were struck by the work of Jan-Ole Schiemann (@studio_2.63), entitled Fusion. This is a mixed media piece on canvas, framed in a thin dark floating frame. The thick bold lines hit the viewer immediately yet, upon closer inspection, the use of ink and the layering of colour create lovely transparent areas; the interior of the outlined shapes reveal themselves to be softer.
At the ground level, we encounter the familiar white walls of many galleries, but the rustic light wood floor beams give the space a fresh feel indeed. Bookshelves, a marble fireplace, a large whimsical floral arrangement, and a view on the sculpture garden made me want to discover more of this refinished building as well as the art on display.
The first floor was just as open and airy as downstairs. Rounding the corner, my attention went directly to Dashiell Manley’s work, Knowing Glances (Possible Winks). This oil on linen is a Monet-esque palette of soft greens, blues, and purples applied in shell-like shapes, which are so thick the painting becomes sculptural. I loved the little surprises (winks?) of bright yellow, which were applied to the already thick painted surface like jeweled embellishments on fabric. This painting made me smile.
That smile continued on the second floor when I encountered Thomas Wachholz’s (@thomaswachholz) work, JUST CARE FOR ME. An elongated, cartoon-style multi-coloured skirt, with pointy-toed little black boots peeking out from underneath, is against a background of solid light mauve; a horizontal stripe of darker mauve runs the length at the bottom of the piece. This piece felt very fun and carefree, but that reaction was complicated by its capitalized titled.
I loved how the gallery takes advantage of the historic townhouse’s divided structure by creating cozy corners that lend a sense of home to the space. On the second floor, we find the adjoining rooms are outfitted with a couch, coffee table and chairs, and a large modern meeting table where, I imagine, many a meeting takes place. Floor lamps, plants, and flower bouquets are the small touches that put the visitor at ease and seem to say: take your time, feel at home.
The inaugural exhibition also contained a little sneak peak of the next show, the work of Jana Schröder (@janarrrrrrrrrrrrr). We saw her painting entitled, Neurosox AU L1, here pictured below: a large scale gestural abstract painting, juxtaposing dense and transparent colour areas. Schröder’s solo exhibition, Mother, is currently on view at the gallery until April 10, 2021.
I’m glad that, in addition to their galleries in Los Angeles and Cologne, Nino Mier has opened its doors in Brussels. This is a space that feels inviting, a space wherein I felt I could take my time with the artworks. I felt encouraged to linger and revisit rooms—the chance for a second look inherently available since one must climb to the top floor and then return the same way, of course. I appreciated this cozy gallery space and took my time with my favourite pieces. I look forward to visiting again!
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