22 January 2015

London Art Fair 2015 I

Although art fairs are not exhibitions, I go for the art. I go along to see what will catch my eye, to find new artists, see if I can recognise the work of others. I also hope to bump into someone I know, perhaps have a few art chats or frankly overhear some.

I have an irresistible compulsion to start these things at the back and work my way in time to the front - although fairs are never arranged so that the viewer can work their way through methodically - you always have to repeat a row or miss a bit. At first in the presence of such a treasure trove, I meander through, giving many works some time and thought. After a while, like others surely, I stroll past barely giving a judgement other than, yes, yes, crap, why that frame, brilliant, like, not like and so on.

Stand too long in front of something at these things and there is a danger that someone will come and tell you how it was made, spilling the artists secrets as if construction is the main value. I always hope for an ambiguous piece to remain so. Perhaps it is a usual way of getting into conversation with potential buyers, but for me it is too much information.

I don't have a budget to buy art, although I do have an imaginary budget, and have already amassed a gorgeous virtual collection over the years of art I have fallen in love with, cannot imagine living without, and yet somehow do.

Some artists' work I would have bought today include:

Hans-Christian Schink

Namibia_1 Hans-Christian Schink

represented by Galerie Rothamel 

I absolutely adored this portfolio of photos showing time-lapses of the sun, treated by my favourite mysterious photographic process, solarisation. They have a slightly bleached out quality as if they are vintage or early photos, but the dark line of light looks metallic, alien, contemporary, and yet totally integrated. These photographs contribute to the great debates about time and exposure in photography, and all the double and triple meanings of terms. Capturing a long moment in time.


Michael Johansson

Michael Johansson Vertical Transition in blue  2013
glued object, boxes, ordinary items

Represented by The Flat - Massimo Carasi

We may well all have seen stacked work before, sometimes irregular, sometimes lined up like this, but the colour matching and sheer delight in objects makes this work more than a pleasure - it's intriguing and generous in all those possible suggestions. I muse about living with one of these works, every day toying with opening one of those drawers or boxes, or just continuing imagining the delicious possibilities of whether there is more inside.

We all need to make some sense of the world and categorise the sea of stuff we swim through - sometimes I see work I love so much I plan to make some for myself, and this is it.


Yelena Popova

Yelena Popova Gentleman (After Hogarth)

Represented by Syson Gallery

Showing work from a current residency at Upton house, this artist has a response to the heavy-set opulence of a stately home with work which is so subtle it is almost subliminal. The little web-image shows up the negative shadow quite well, but live the canvas looks intriguingly blank. The figure emerges like residual light or a ghostly apparition, bringing with it trails of thoughts and references about time and presence, and the fading of people into the past. Almost creepy, I find them suggestively and aesthetically powerful.

At art fairs, which are really shop windows, although there are art projects, works necessarily are not presented to explore debates in practice about context. I was drawn to the substance of this stand with its case notes and research.


The audience at art fairs are clearly not just buyers. The value of art is determined by a complex matrix of judgements, debate and critical appraisal by the market, curators and other artists. It's undoubtedly baffling and mysterious, and not always a meritocracy. 

London Art Fair 2015
Business Design Centre
21st - 25th January 2015

22nd January 2014

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