Axel Pairon and his quest to bring hot new art to Belgium

13.05.2018 - Agne Steponaityte

Gallerist Axel Pairon is on a mission to introduce Belgians to undiscovered talents. For the last 22 years, Pairon has been mostly exhibiting international artists. That way he aims to bring something different into the Belgian art scene.

“It’s fantastic to do this,” states Pairon with elation. “We travel a lot, we meet a lot of interesting people, various artists that we work with... There’s such a variety in what we do.”

Patrick Huges, Dandy, 2014

How would you describe what you do to a 5-year-old child?

I’d say that I work with art every day. Drawings, paintings, and sculptures.

Can art save the world?

Well, I think ‘save the world’ is a little too ambitious, but it can make a difference and make people aware of some problems. You have some artists who are very engaged politically and socially as well. So yes, art has an impact. I think it contributes to a better world.

What was the first piece that you got for yourself for your own collection?

When I was 12 years old I bought a designed cupboard. I was always fascinated by this and I always liked to do this, even when I was a child. That is why I studied art history and afterward did an internship in London. In 1996, I came back and started my own gallery.

Regine Schumann, Color Satin Knokke Deep Orange, 2017

What’s a Belgian artist you admire?

Raoul de Keyser I like very much. Rene Magritte, of course, he did fantastic work. Luc Tuymans is very nice as well. I think we have some very nice artists.
I don’t have any work by Belgian artists in my gallery though. I usually go for the ones that are not yet familiar in Belgium so they’re mostly international. But you never know, maybe I will have some in the future.

Which gallery or museum in Belgium do you like?

WIELS in Brussels I like very much. Bozar as well, also in Brussels. SMAK in Ghent.
In Antwerp, I like Plantin-Moretus museum because of the atmosphere. It’s in a historic building that used to be a printing house and a library. I love libraries, so the atmosphere is fantastic. They have books there from that original printing house. Some of them date back to XV century.

Wilfired Vandenhove, The Untameable, 2009

Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

I don’t think there are actual competitors when it comes to arts. For example, in Knokke we have a very high concentration of galleries. There are more than 100 galleries in Knokke, which is a lot for a town of 30 000 people. Still - the more the better. Because the more galleries, the more people are coming to Knokke to see art. So in the summer, you can go to the beach, you can sightsee, you can hike, you can eat, and you can visit galleries as well.

What is your favourite work of art?

I like Francis Bacon very much. Frank Auerbach. Spanish artist Antoni Tapies.

 Sean McSweeney, Yellow Bogland

What should be banned from the art world?

I think it’s not good to ban something as you cannot define art. So, if you cannot define it, you cannot ban anything. Once you would do it, it would lose that specific dimension, the freedom that only art has. You can’t define it and I think it’s great to keep it that way.

Which Belgian talent should we interview next?

Young architect Sophie Van Noten and the very promising Belgian cook Steven De Blieck.

Axel Pairon Gallery
Zeedijk 729
8300 Knokke-Het Zoute

More info: Official site

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