If the 25th edition of the London Art Fair in 2013 proclaimed London as the capital of the art market worldwide, the upcoming edition opening next week at the Business Design Centre in Angel, seems to confirm that point of view through an even more attractive and thought provoking program.
More than just an opportunity of visibility for galleries and artists or a massive collection (of collections) of art pieces under the same umbrella, the London Art Fair is an event that curates the galleries’ work worldwide and takes a position about what’s on planet art.
For instance, this 26th edition of the event confirms the categories of the Main Fair, Art Projects (which reached here its 10th edition) and Photo 50, the last two respectively dedicated to contemporary art and contemporary photography.
Amongst the main innovative features is the partnership with The Hepworth Wakefield art gallery presenting the exhibition “Barbara Hepworth and British Modernism” – which will welcome the visitors at the entrance of the Main Fair – and the introduction of the Dialogues section within the Art Projects platform for contemporary art.
The latter, curated by Adam Carr (writer and curator at MOSTYN, Wales’ leading institution for contemporary visual arts) will see paired groups of UK and International galleries presenting critical conversations. The pairs will be: DREI, Cologne / Limoncello, London, Galeria Stereo, Warsaw / The Sunday Painter, London SABOT, Romania / Maria Stenfors, London and Frutta, Rome / Seventeen, London. Dialogues encourage a collaborative voice within the context of the fair against the more conventional separation of each participant. In other words rather than being the Crystal Palace of art collections, the London Art Fair becomes an occasion for a productive confrontation and critical view of the galleries and artists’ work.
Art Projects also include the launch of the fifth edition of The Catlin Guide 2014 which showcases 40 of the most talented new graduate and postgraduate artists. The shortlist this year includes painters Charlie Billingham (Royal Academy Schools) and Neil Raitt (Royal College of Art) and multi-media artists Ophelia Finke (Central Saint Martins).
Art Projects will also continue to include solo shows like in previous editions and this year will include work of emerging British artists Nicole Morris and Alison Erika Forde. Also few group shows will be included such as the one from THE RESIDENCE GALLERY and the KNOW/WHERE from dalla Rosa gallery with the participation of Benjamin Bridges, Caroline Kha, and Kasper Pincis.
“Immaterial Matters” is the title of this years “Photo 50” exhibition curated by Charlie Fellowes and Jeremy Epstein, Directors of Edel Assanti. The show about contemporary photography will be focused on the blurred territory of traditional and digital images of the information age with works that challenge the medium and the boundaries of the field such as video and web-based work. As the curators argued “This exploration is enacted playfully at times, in work that attempts to situate itself on the boundary between these two realms, and progressively elsewhere, in works that describe new ontologies and geographies that are developing as a result of the prevalence of free circulating digital information.” The show will include works by Andrew Norman Wilson, Kate Steciw, Joe Hamilton, Constant Dullaart and Nicolai Howalt.
Nevertheless contemporary photography will be represented at the fair in several other ways; in fact the 15th of January will be fully dedicated to the topic with talks, discussions and tours and a number of galleries will showcase works by contemporary photographers such as: 21st Editions, Purdy Hicks Gallery, Crane Kalman Brighton, Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Danielle Arnaud, Flowers Gallery, GBS Fine Art and Jack Bell Gallery.
Alongside these sections dedicated to contemporary art and photography, like every year the main section of the fair will see the presence of some of the most important UK and international galleries which deal with modern and contemporary art from the early 20th Century to the present, showcasing works by famous British artists from Francis Bacon to Eduardo Paolozzi, David Hockney, Peter Blake and Andrew Salgado. Amongst the several new entries of 2014 is the Japanese Whitestone gallery which will debut with the display of the work of Chiyu Uemae part of Gutai, a neo-avant-garde Japanese movement of the 50’s.
Everything will be completed by an extensive programme of talks and discussion panels such as Melanie Gerlis’ “Is art really a good investment?” on Friday the 17th and the interview to artist and film-maker Alison Jackson conducted by Stephen Bull of Photoworks on Saturday the 18th. On Thursday evening the fair will stay open till 9pm with a programme of artists’ performances and film screenings.
Which kind of dialogue can the London Art Fair stimulate between galleries and artists in the UK and worldwide?