London Art Fair 2014
So last week was quite a busy old week for me; I had some work in an exhibition open and I had the London Art Fair to attend (thanks very much to Axis web for the tickets).
Sadly my health means that despite my original plan to attend both the private view and the art fair, spending the night in a lovely hotel, I had to make the decision to only attend one.
I chose the art fair.
LAF14 was a splendid concoction of art and people: people selling art; talking about art; people who make art; people who love art and people who buy it. Now in times gone by you would think that art was only for the wealthy, but since the launch of the “Own Art” scheme it has opened it up so that anyone, can (to an extent) own artwork.
Laid out over four levels with photography (Photo50) and films at the top (although they were interspersed with other forms on lower levels); art projects on the next level down and various gallery spaces (both real world and online) exhibiting throughout the rest of Islington’s business design centre.
This was a very claustrophobic atmosphere to be in for anyone and in an wheelchair that took on a whole new level of discomfort…. I felt akin to being in a wheelchair trapped in a rabbit warren of wonderful art (bit of strange imagery for you there, but true).
Anyhow back to the review……..
Now art is totally subjective so it would be a lie for me to say that I loved each and every piece on display. Indeed there were some galleries who I loved every piece they exhibited and there were others where I queried whether it was really all Emperors New Clothes and did not like anything, not one iota…. but that is the brilliance and the downfall of art; anything goes.
To list all of the artists and galleries who exhibited would take an age so I shall just pay special attention to those that particularly caught my eye.
As somebody whose main practice centres around the taking and altering (both digitally and manually) of photographs I was very impressed by a magazine based in Dublin called BLOW. Every issue (trimonthly) they have a main theme and artists submit in response to it. The magazines are high quality, well produced pieces in their own right; the fact that they are A3 heavy stock adds to the upmarket appeal of them. I had a look through their current issue, entitled, Animals and was very impressed by the calibre of the work and happy to see they utilised all of the photographic spectrum, happily mixing documentary style shots, with pieces of digital art.
I loved the work showcased by the Hanmi Gallery. Their artists utilised new media and installation in their pieces, with the overall theme being limits of a function, examining the boundaries of contemporary art and measure its dimensions.
My husband (who attended with me) was particularly enamoured by the work of Junebum Park whose work:
engages in a visual discussion on the restraints of routine
confines of a set societal structure, and the expected
submission into roles within these realms.
(press release: Limits of a Function, Hamni Gallery:2014).
Also of particular note was Sungfeel Yun’s piece, Looking at the Real World from Within the Real World
His work utilises both scientific and ontological arguments as a framework for his sculptural pieces, arguing that they are not as far removed from each other as at first appears.
I cannot pinpoint exactly what it is about his work that I am so drawn to, I think it is the fact that whilst appearing simple, it is also vast and brings you in, almost having a hypnotic effect and causing you to question your place in the world.
I loved the work showcased by Antlers gallery. Both the work of Anouk Mercier and Jonny Byles was beautiful, but I particularly loved Byles’ Starscapes. Although simple graphite on cartridge paper there is something very striking and immense about them. They are fragile and yet strong images; and almost whimsical in nature, they seem to allude to something bigger than ourselves. His use of graphite and the subject matter is suggestive of escapism whilst accepting the reality of the everyday, that even when we are armed with only a pencil, we can reach for the stars.
Part of Starscapes series, copyright of Jonny Byles, via Antler Gallery.
I also loved the work showcased by BearSpace of Deptford. Victoria Arney’s pieces were particulary appealing.
This piece was shown at the Art Fair, but this image was taken from her site.
As somebody whose main love is photography I was particularly enamoured by Brighton’s Crane Kalman Gallery. Their exhibit included the work of people like Hugh Holland (if you’ve seen the film Dogtown and zboys then this is a similar era, documenting the burgeoning Californian skate and surf scene of the 1960s and 70s) and more recent works.
It is difficult for me to remember the names of all the artists and galleries that appealed to me: from jarred fairies to Bond themed artwork utilising every record or cd that has ever graced a film in the series; to the amazing work of the colossus that is Peter Blake, there really were many wonderful pieces. If I have one criticism to levy it is the food (or lack of sandwiches etc if you hate salad or mustard); however this does not distract from the art fair being one of the best places to see what is happening right now in contemporary art, along with striking pieces from a different era.