In chaotic scenes on Thursday, around a dozen artists rushed to the Balthasar Brussels concept store on the Place du Grand Sablon to retrieve their artworks, before they would reportedly be seized by a new curator of the gallery.
Around 08:00 last Thursday, concerned artists gathered in front of the Balthasar Brussels concept store to retrieve the works they had been exhibiting in the gallery, after rumours were circulated on Whatsapp of the arrival of a new curator - a guardian appointed to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another person or institution.
The new curator, was allegedly brought in as the establishment was declaring bankruptcy. The gallery denied this claim, but confirmed that a change of management ha taken place last October. Artists were concerned their artworks would be damaged, moved or seized.
"We warned the others and told them to be prepared to react quickly this Thursday morning. One artist came back from the coast, another from Liège," one of the artists behind the alert told BX1.
When the small group of exhibitors arrived, the gallery doors were closed, and a guard banned them from entering before 11:00, when the gallery opened. After discussions, they managed to get inside and retrieve their works.
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"As soon as we entered the gallery, we could see that something was wrong," one of the artists said. "There was almost nothing left in the exhibition hall. The well-known designers and stylists had already taken over everything."
Recovering the works was "chaotic," the artist said. "On a sheet of paper, we wrote down which works we were taking back, but no proof of identity was asked for. We could have taken anything."
The curator arrived as planned at 09:00, but the artists who arrived later were initially refused entry. They then decided to call the police, who came to the scene. Eventually, each artist was able to retrieve their own belongings, after the curator had left.
Lack of communication
Speaking to BX1, the management claimed that there was "no problem", and that it was all just a huge "misunderstanding".
For the moment, Balthasar Brussels has not made any further comments.
"What we regret is the lack of communication," said one of the artists to sum up the misadventure. "The last email I received from the management was in January 2022."