Sometimes in my photo shoots with decorators or architects I like to bring up the subject of Axel Vervoordt, this year’s Special Prize from the AD Editorial Staff. The positions are revealing to me, almost self-portraits. Talking about an antique cousin, who started at age 21 as an art dealer and revolutionized interior design with its minimal and at the same time mystical spaces, full of pieces with patina, works of art, rough walls and oriental winks, is hard.
The compliments have already been said all although there is always some daring who boasts of being able to criticize him. I remember once in New York that a decorator condemned him for not being original, and while he was saying it I looked at the cracked canvas of Lucio Fontana that he had over the fireplace, in front of a sandy stucco, and I thought: “Poor, it’s still in the stage to kill the father… ”.
Another brave man told me that he was not interested in what was out of date, and he said it sitting on his brand-new Prouvé chair. I was also amused by the comment because Axel is not someone that one associates with the ephemeral; he has gone his own way, not caring much about trends, and that freedom and that achievement of being immediately recognized for his style produces a buried envy that is better to air.
On the other hand, on the two main works of Axel, the immense castle on the outskirts of Antwerp in which he lives, and Kanaal, his temple dedicated to art and antiquities, there is a consensus and a universal admiration, being currently both indisputable icons in the aesthetic world. His château de ‘s-Gravenwezel is the synthesis of the dream of an antique dealer, decorator and collector, who enjoys sharing his lifestyle with friends and clients. It is the private residence of Axel and his wife, and at the same time a showroom open to the public by appointment, where the pieces are displayed to be admired or sold.
Kanaal, meanwhile, is a multidisciplinary space that combines antiques, successive temporary contemporary exhibitions, and permanent art pieces such as the famous Anish Kapoor sculpture At the Edge of the World. By doing without doing, in the Taoist way, Vervoordt has become a world reference, topic of conversation, table book and business model. And yes, his stamp has been widely imitated and at first glance it seems simple, but it is deceiving, it is extremely complicated.
To put the stripped antiquity next to a piece of archeology. But to follow his path, you need to take risks and be a bit of a poet. What does that poetry consist of? The rules are more or less simple. Avoid double adjectives, seek subtle rhyme and flee from the obvious, build images of the essence, reject the superfluous. Evocation, never provocation; containment, suggestion, austerity, precision, silences and their contrasts. Symmetry and its asymmetry. You can tell that the Belgian studied mathematics. And above all, the mystery, which is the most difficult thing to achieve in a decoration. Let’s say that’s the Axel shape, but the background is even more interesting.
I compile some ideas that I remember from my two encounters with him: yin and yang to find a balance between the extremes of luxury and austerity, between order and disorder, reason and the spontaneous, nature and man, nature. light and darkness. “You have to decorate not decorate”, is one of its premises. “Things are not important in themselves, just because of the story they tell,” he told me on another occasion. “The soul of the furniture is in its skin, where you can read its history, the result of dialogue with its time, which makes it unique and unrepeatable, a piece of furniture that has just been sanded and varnished I don’t even look at it”. “Time is an artist”, he repeats many times.
If someone wants to understand this Renaissance man, great and at the same time spiritual, they just have to look at a Japanese vase.
Wabi Sabi, for artists, designers, poets and philosophers by Leonard Koren and The Eulogy of the Shadow by Tanizaki. From them he took the inspiration for his latest book, Sprit Wabi. Yes, Axel is a great poet, not only composing interiors; also receiving, serving wine, posing for a portrait or helping (helping me) carry the photography equipment. He is one of the most elegant people I have ever met, in a particular way, like one of those branches that hang from his vases, languid, casual, almost anarchic, but the result of a very sophisticated pruning.
They say that any past time was better and, without a doubt, the antiques of ‘Le Chic & Antique Decó’ are an example of this. The show lasts ten days and it has already become essential.
Only five editions has needed Le Chic & Antique Decó to be part of the calendar of antiques and decoration lovers. It will be in Serrano 18, Madrid, and for ten days from February 20, in this space more than 25 professionals from the world of antiques, auctioneers and brocantes from all over Spain will meet to offer their best articles and pieces of collector.
Contemporary works and sculptures, classical pieces, furniture of different styles, established names and emerging artists, French-style furniture, brass tables, period rugs or mirrors, the only requirement is good taste. Some of the antique dealers that are part of this exclusive space are Beatriz Bálgoma, La 40, Slou, Antigüedades Merale, Verde Gabán, El Atelier de Argensola or Limousin. Le Chic Decó will take place from Wednesday 20 to Sunday 24 February, and with a break on Monday and Tuesday, Antique Decó will resume its activity on this occasion, from February 27 to March 3. As it also coincides with ARCO, it is very easy to add it to the agenda of essentials.
Once again, Ifema becomes the capital of antiques with the new edition of the Almoneda Antik Passion Navidad. More than eighty exhibitors, auctioneers, antique dealers or art galleries will meet for five days, from December 12 to 16, in Hall 1 of Feria de Madrid.
There will be collector’s items, vintage fashion and accessories, furniture and decorative objects and even plastic arts. Thousands of unique objects that adapt to all types of pockets and that can be purchased from 1 and 2 euros or even go up to 50,000 euros, with collector’s books or jewelery with precious stones.
Among the most prominent exhibitors, Galería Jordi Pascual proposes for Almoneda a stand with paintings by Spanish artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. Pemberley Antiques will also be present, with a selection of dining tables, cutlery, nightstand and other furniture from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
In addition, this year there will be an open house with free admission. It will be next Thursday the 13th and all Madrilenians and visitors to the capital will be able to come to Ifema. The best opportunity to get the best and most original gift for this Christmas.